Google Shopping banned guns and weapon-related listings in 2012, but on February 27th, Google appeared to have taken things a step further. Instead of filtering out only weapons-related searches, Google users reported being blocked from seeing all results with “gun” in the name. So if you happened to be shopping for Burgundy wine, for example, you would’ve been out of luck.
Gun control has been in the news again since the horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day, and many companies have cut ties with the NRA in protest of that organization’s pro-gun policies. It’s unclear whether Google was taking a stand on gun rights this week or if shoppers just noticed the restrictions, but regardless, the Google Shopping ban on “gun”-related words caused quite a stir on Twitter.
People searching for non-weapon related items, such as glue guns, water guns, Guns N’ Roses CDs, and even Burgundy wine, were met with the same error message: “Your search did not match any shopping results”. According to the Washington Examiner, searches for anything related to “Laguna Beach” were even censored.
The Google Shopping weapons ban does seem to be pretty strict.
As part of its ad policy, the company doesn’t promote ads for “dangerous products or services,” which includes knives, guns, Tasers, ammunition, and explosives.
Although the company did have good intentions, Twitter still managed to have some fun with the ban.
According to Business Insider, the issue was resolved as of Tuesday afternoon. After all, this is Google we’re talking about. It somehow allows people to still shop for “bath bombs” even though bomb-related items are not allowed, so we know its algorithm is sophisticated.