News

Google to Censor Firearms from Shopping Results

Google Censorship

There are some very unsettling things coming from Google this week. If you do a shopping search for firearms-related products using Google, you will now get back nothing. Google is censoring their results for firearms and ammunition. This will effectively put an end to an era of ease when comparing gun prices from different merchants. Customers will now have to research their firearms purchases manually at individual websites. Google has made great strides in the past on eliminating Internet censorship, but the California-based company seems to have it in for the firearms industry—and they are not alone.

Google Censorship
Google Censorship
Many companies do not accept advertising from firearms dealers. A&E and Disney own the History Channel; they do not allow firearms advertising of any kind on their broadcast networks. That’s right, you are not allowed to advertise guns on a station filled with shows about guns, such as Top Shot. It does not end there. Firearms merchants raced to run commercials on the popular show called Sons of Guns, which airs on the Discovery Channel. Same rules apply—no advertising of firearms related products or ammunition. Discovery also owns the Military Channel, so no dice there either. News Corporation owns Fox Sports, which does not allow gun ads to run during their UFC fights. It is okay to show bloody fighters beating the tar out of one another, but a commercial about duck hunting ammo is taboo. Kudos to NBC Sports, formerly Versus, for carrying 3-Gun Nation and Hot Shots.

Unfortunately, it does not stop with your television. Our beloved uncensored Internet is not immune to the anti-gun sentiment. Long before Google jumped on the firearms censorship bandwagon, Facebook decided that they would not allow gun ads to run on their site. It was okay to have a brand page, but they would not take money to run ads. Here is a little insider lesson on how Facebook ads work. If a company posts something on their wall, a certain percentage of their followers will see it in their news feeds. If you buy ads, many more will see your ad. The difference in customer reach is so vast that it would be unwise not to try to run ads on Facebook.

Surprisingly, Amazon.com just changed their most recent policy and now allows some gun parts on their site. This is a step in the right direction, but we as advocates of the Second Amendment have a long way to go.

How can you help? Show Facebook how strong the American gun culture is by increasing the number of fans on firearm-specific pages. Like our Facebook brand page, and every other firearm brand page. Share this post with your friends, and get them to like us on Facebook. Have them follow their favorite firearms brands, too. This issue is not just about us, it is about the industry as a whole. Together we can show strength in numbers, and help them realize the value of the firearms industry and community.

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Comments (51)

  1. I want to voice my admiration for your generosity for those people who absolutely need help on your content. Your real commitment to getting the message all-around appears to be really productive and has without exception empowered guys like me to get to their dreams. Your interesting publication signifies so much a person like me and additionally to my mates. Many thanks; from each one of us.

  2. “It is okay to show bloody fighters beating the tar out of one another, but a commercial about duck hunting ammo is taboo”

    I think the shooting animals part is what is dissuading ads from running.

  3. Hey CTD and CTD Rob,
    This seems a little dishonest to me. First of all, until I saw this article I never knew there was a Google shopping. This article is not talking about the search engine Google, it is talking about the actual Google Shopping which is one of the sub features on the Google homepage. For those like me who didn’t know about Google shopping, you get there by the sub features which are on the menu bar of the Google homepage. They include Search, YouTube, Play, Maps, More, etc. If you click on the More feature, the drop down menu provides a shopping section. This is where the so called “censorship” takes place. Come on CTD and CTD Rob, this is a non article. Many retailers refuse to sell firearm and firearm parts from their online stores. Amazon will sell firearm accessories but not firearms so you may as well say they are censoring firearms too. Stick with selling firearms and accessories and try to stay away from the bs and the politics….
    Sincerely,
    Pete Geller

  4. How absurd, ridiculous and childish, not to mention outdated info…
    We have been buying “gun parts & accessories” on/off Amazon.com for years – it’s nothing new…
    Who cares if “Google Shopping” won’t let you search for that type of “information” – Google is not the ONLY search engine in the world as much as they would like to have you all believe.
    Instead of using and relying on all of the “commercial” Search Engines, just use a “Meta-engine” like http://www.metacrawler.com or ANY of 100 others… We have NO problems finding what we are looking for EVER and usually in the very first 15-20 results(1st page)…

  5. What is truly amazing is the level of lack of reading comprehension of posters here.
    Regular Google searches are unaffected. It’s Google shopping that the censorship exists. Google refuses to permit ANY weapon related sales in their marketplace.
    Rather than simply abandon Google over their shortsighted new policy, I did what any consumer SHOULD do when there is an issue with a vendor. I registered a complaint.
    NOT registering a complaint simply encourages Google, then other search engine companies to continue to repress what once was a free market.

  6. In fact, after 2 days what I’ve noticed is that the gun related adds that used to be at the side of the Gmail page are no longer there. The search engine seems uneffected. I never paid any attention to the adds.

  7. [As a web developer it is part of my job to know about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In short, this means I have a higher-than-average understanding of what search engines (eg, Google.com, Bing.com, etc.) are and how they work. Still, I make mistakes, I am (in some cases, for brevity and simplicity) “dumbing” technical aspects down, and it is possible that my verbiage may be accidentally confusing, so please be sure to check my work and do your own research.]

    I think the main problem here is that the writer of this blog and those who agree with him do not understand what Google is and is not. I gather that most of you are under the misconception that Google represents everything that is on the internet. Thus, if something does not show up in your search results then it must be getting censored. You are 100% correct! Except not…

    Google.com is, and has always intended to be, a filtering machine that has limited access to a portion of what is available on the internet. It’s not just Google, either. This is true of all search engines.

    What Google does is index/organize all web content whose owners give Google permission to offer up to the general public. The result is a massive amount of information that you will probably care less about and/or be offended by. From a technical standpoint and a user-friendly standpoint it is silly to not filter search results.

    Recall that the internet is world-wide. Yet if I search for “Italian restaurant” I’d prefer a reputable place in my neighborhood, rather than a mafia front in Sicily. Search engines spend millions in creating, honing, and refining their algorithms that help filter out all the unlikely, unpopular, and potentially spamming/dangerous results so that you don’t have to scroll through 2500+ pages to find the restaurant down the road.

    Remember phone books and how some were so thick that they could be used as improvised weapons? Now imagine it on a planetary scale and including books, pictures, movies, correspondence…

    If you want to label a search engine’s filter as censorship… you can. But you’re splitting semantic hairs. Filtering is a search engine’s purpose. If you don’t like that kind of “censorship” then don’t use any search engine.

    So now that you know that every search engine’s purpose is to “censor” the internet for you, you might also want to remember that Google is a corporation and owes you nothing. There is no mandate that requires Google to show you what you want to see or requiring them to provide any particular service you’d enjoy. Complaining about how they don’t want to include guns in their store listings is like complaining that Burger King won’t sell you a couple fingers of Jack Daniels with your pseudo-meat paddy and golden fries.

    “Burger King won’t let me buy bourbon! It’s censorship I tells ya!”

    Despite the fact that they would get a lot of money from me, Burger King is choosing to lose my business to my local bar rather than provide me with fries and a shot. Their menu items remain BK’s prerogative and I wouldn’t want it any other way. One of the beauties and faults of capitalism is that businesses entities are, as long as they aren’t being dangers to others, welcome to do as they please. If you don’t like this country’s capitalist system, try a communist nation and let us know, if your new government allows you to, how that works out for you.

    This begs the question: why would Google not allow guns to be listed in their shopping results?

    It has nothing to do with being pro- or anti-Second Amendment right. It’s the same reason BK doesn’t sell booze: there are expensive lawyers, fees, and licenses involved in the buying and selling of highly regulated items such as alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. It’s the same reason that your local gun shop may not care to earn the right and responsibility to sell silencers.

    Think about it: Mr. Joe Ignorant pays Google to help him sell his recently-deceased father’s estate items. Unfortunately, the estate includes a fully automatic Thompson that a 13-year-old kid then purchases with his older brother’s credit card. The kid then shoots up his school. You better believe that lawyers’ eyes are going to light up with dollar signs when they realize that Google directly profited from an illegal arms sale. A lawyer may try to argue that Google has a responsibility of knowing what gets sold through its services, even though Mr. Joe Ignorant didn’t properly identify the Thompson as not being one of his father’s non-working collectables.

    While my example is pretty far-fetched, it only takes one case like that for Google to lose millions in legal fees and bad press, regardless of whether or not they win the legal battle(s). If I were Google or eBay or Amazon or Craigslist or other similar shopping site who refuse to offer gun-related entries, I’d make the same decision. It’s just not worth it.

    So while I’m not a fan of Google, I think CTD and its supporters can choose its battles more wisely. After all, here in the US we lawful voters are (supposedly) the power. The more we speak, the more the government (if democracy works) will respond. The more the government responds, the bigger they get. The bigger they get, the more they wind up telling us lawful voters how to live our lives. So while it is important that we stay vocal about important issues, it’s also good to remember that not every minor affront equates to an attack on the Second Amendment.

    If you still want to be anti-Google… well… I don’t blame you. They’re getting powerful and hold great potential, which can manifest either positively or negatively. It would be wise to stay knowledgeable and keep them in check. But rather than worry and complain on here, take action.

    Advertising is the internet’s cash cow and Google got rich because they control the flow of most advertising. If you want to knock them down a notch or two, strike at them where it hurts:

    -from the inside. Google is publicly traded. Buy some shares, become an owner, and vote at elections. It works about as well as US elections do.

    -don’t use Google products. Good luck with this one. From free online video games to FireFox to YouTube, Google probably has their hand in it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_acquisitions_by_Google

    -don’t think that Yahoo, Ask, Bing, or any other mainstream search engines are any better. There’s a reason why these very expensive services are free to users like you and me. They log everything you search for so they can provide better analytics to advertising. Like it or not (and I don’t) we can at least give Google credit for being transparent about it. Instead, research alternative search engines like the ones listed in other peoples’ comments.

    -block ads. You can download an ad-blocking plug-in for most browsers. Not only do you rid your browser of annoying ads, but you’re also taking money out of Google’s advertising partners, who they cease to pay for Google’s services. Plus, web pages will load faster.

    -don’t want to download a third-party plug-in? Use your computer’s native abilities to redirect advertising servers to a fake IP address. It’s not fool-proof and it requires regular updates on your part, but every bit helps (plus it minimizes your exposure to bad cookies). Visit http://pgl.yoyo.org/as/ and scroll down to “start blocking ads now: four easy steps” for instructions.

    -switch browsers, if needed. Internet Explorer has very little privacy and security options. Google’s Chrome (actually has some decent privacy options, but) should also be avoided for obvious reasons. Google recently pulled all of its funding out of Mozilla’s FireFox in favor of supporting Chrome, so there’s a decent chance that FireFox will no longer bow down to its former sugar daddy. Opera is also a quality browser with no ties (that I’m aware of) to any big advertising. Bear in mind that there are pros and cons to each browser, so do your research to determine which works best for you.

    -if you’re concerned about your internet privacy, subscribe to or create your own proxy server. Proxy servers give Google, your Internet Service Provider (ISP), advertising, and other parties interested in tracking your behavior the wrong IP address. Good proxy services (ones that don’t sell your personal information, bombard you with ads, or keep logs of what you do through their services), cost about $10/month. Expect to have a slower internet experience.

    -have only foreigners retained the belief that America is the Land of Opportunity? Does anybody NEED Google to buy/sell guns online? As a business-owner/independent contractor, I can tell you first-hand that it’s easy to start and run a business here in the US. Where you see a problem with Google I see an opportunity to create a desired service. I don’t have the time/desire to create a website dedicated to helping others compare prices and buy guns online, but maybe you do. And maybe then you’ll learn how a 100% pro-gun commercial entity might wind up making the same decision as Google and all the other online retailers who choose not to get involved in the online sale of firearms.

    Above all, remember that Google is not the internet. Non-profits like the ISOC, IETF, IAB, ICANN, and W3C develops the internet infrastructure, largely through US taxpayer monies (which means, yup, you guessed it: the US Government already controls internet content before you, I, or Google ever sets eyes on it… so the more paranoid among us can point out that we can only guess at how much is already censored… which is partly why Google has been so anti-censorship in the past. They want as much access as possible, too!).

    So even though Google has reps in many (if not all) of those non-profs, just like any other bureaucracy, big wigs (such as Apple, Microsoft, and Google) bicker about how the internet should function and in the end very little gets done and nobody leaves happy. We internet consumers can at least be happy about that.

    I hope you found this informative. Please know that I am neither a fan of Google (just giving credit where credit is due) nor am I an opponent of our Second Amendment right. I believe a civilized society is one where every would-be criminal fears every citizen, and having more responsible gun owners would help reduce the number of victims and criminals in this country.

    While I’m grateful to the fine folks at CTD I very strongly believe that they have missed their mark this time, and advise them and my fellow Second Amendment friends to choose our battles more wisely.

  8. There is no problem searching Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine for gun prices. I just checked them all with everything from “price Glock 17” to a complex search for an AR15 with specific features and ignoring several brands and they all performed fine. I’m more than a little surprised by the lack of fact-checking in this article and all the responses assuming it’s true without double-checking, especially given how frequently servers go down for maintenance, hack attacks, etc., how often security software malfunctions and blocks web sites because it erroneously detects phishing, scamming, spamming, porn, or whatever. C’mon, folks! It’s not like computers or the Internet are new concepts.

  9. The problem, as I see it, is that with all the problems I have with Google, I have more with
    the others.
    I will take a look duckduckgo.com

  10. Try duckduckgo.com They are a new search engine that I learned of by a computer geek. I mentioned to him about Google censoring guns & ammo searches. Bing.com is also another option. The difference being is duckduckgo doesn’t track you like Google will & supposedly Bing.

  11. So much for using Google faithfully since its inception. Hopefully Bing will be more intelligent. (which I have truly disliked until now)

  12. If you all have a problem with Google prohibiting advertizements for weapons and weapon related products, give Google feedback to that effect.
    They’ll never change a policy without complaints. If they get enough complaints, they’ll see the lost business and change policies.
    That is simply business 101.
    As for Google’s laws vary by country and locality, while strictly correct, NO state prohibits weapons related advertizements at all. Some first amendment thingie going on.
    SOME products may be prohibited in some states, but that is another matter and most reputable vendors won’t ship prohibited items to a state that prohibits the product.
    As for another country, google dot com is US, google dot com dot ca is Canadian Google. So, the international nonsense is just that, nonsense that is attempting to mislead the ignorant of the internet, as each nation has it’s top level domain and the DNS systems default to that national top level (Canada defaulting to dot ca, Mexico to dot mx, England defaulting to dot uk, etc). One would EXPECT Google to know that, so I have to consider that an attempt at misleading the public.

    So, sound off to Google about their anti-Constitutional policies. Before they start keeping us safe by not permitting certain political parties words to be searched for, news blocked from search if it’s “unsafe”, etc.
    And remind Google that Yahoo still is pro-first amendment in their shopping listings, not that I use EITHER service for my shopping.
    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an e-mail complaint to draft.

  13. I am not sympathetic towards CTD at all because they won’t sell handgun ammunition to me in California even though it’s legal where I live. They also won’t sell any guns at all to California even though it’s perfectly legal. There might be a city here or there that has a ban on something, but it certainly doesn’t include the entire state of California.

    This censoring from google is a step too far, I’m switching to bing and I’ll probably drop my gmail account too.

  14. I didn’t see any difference with Google after I tried it tonight. I have been using it a lot. It seemed to me that Alta Vista was better for gun searches, but now Alta Vista is just Yahoo. I think that Yahoo is also better than Google for on-line gun stores. With google it seems obvious that payers get their names first. I get a lot of sellers who are not the cheapest first.

  15. You can’t just pick and choose censorship. This is what Google complains about in tyranical states like China and Iran.
    Censorship violates all of our cherished rights. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t give you the right to say
    no one else can. Gun ownership is legal and a “right”, unlike child porn.

  16. 25.Oh Michael and Manwhell, it is so good to see such tolerance for people’s opinions, phobias and paranoia. This country has become such a warm bed of tolerance that I’m sure our future is bright and shining.

    From one that doesn’t trust Google or our government, won’t you both kiss my big redneck ass!

    Comment by AJTexas — June 28, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

    LOL , Loved your Comment Brother from Tx , although I agree with you AJ , I`m not laughing at you my Friend . I have been using Yahoo Search for Quite a while . I own a lota weapons and and self load for every one of them , and have been for over 40 + years , so I buy a LOTA Powder , Primers , and Bullets to do that with . I have been using most of the Co`s I buy those product`s from for a LONG Time , and have ALL” there web sites right on my desk top for Quick access to there sites . But what ever I buy on this internet , I use Yahoo search and very familiar how to use it to search out what ever I`m looking for . I do not care for anti gun people , no mater who they are . I don`t belive they have much common since , so I steer clear from those people . I avoid argument`s with them about the subject , because there mostly miss informed about the subject , and ya just can`t slap um up side the head to get them to talk intelligently on the subject , so I jst avoid them . I also have Nothing to do with FACE~Book or anything like it , because my X~ and all the rest of her family hangs around on it , and I`m 600 mile away from her , and wanta keep it that way…. Sorta out sight… Outa mine….Know what i mean . But as far as Anti gun Web~Sites , I Steer clear of them if i know about it , and CTD Ain~t one of them by a long shot , there a Good honest Co. I done bis. with for a Long time . But I say to all Yall , Do let anti gun fokes get under your skin , they can`t help it , It was there Up~Bringing I guess , but I`m just an old country ass boy , raised up on shotguns and rifle`s and fishin poles ….. And a Contry boy with always servive Bro . And I`m like you , After I seen what they did with the Waco” siege on February 28, 1993 , and the Firey DEATH” Of 75 people (24 of them British nationals)[4] died in the fire, including more than 20 CHILDREN “, and two pregnant women…… I`ve Never Trust Our Government As Far As I Can See Um , From That Day Forward . They Will Stop At Nothing they wanta do , Even if they have to kill KIDS” and pregnant Women ……. Boy Did That” REALLY , Piss Me OFF Bro !

  17. It’s working for me. Just did a Google shopping search for Remington 870 and AR-15 and it worked fine for me.

  18. Use ASK>COM, they don’t censor results, so far. If they eventually do start censoring, then use another search engine. We need to start voting with our feet people, show these bastards we will not take these things lying down.

  19. For starters Google operates within the pretext of a capitalistic free enterprise society which allows it to do whatever it wants with its business model. As a conservative I may not like their policy, but it is a reminder that we are free to do as we wish. I take comfort in knowing that while they are allowed to exclude guns, I am free to build a competing search engine which does includes guns.

    Now for the facts: In reality one must keep in mind that guns are not censored from a normal Google search. This only applies to a Google “Shopping” search. If you insist on using “Shopping”, you can still get gun parts and accessories to show up with a little practice. For example try typing only the word “stock” or just “bore site”. You can even get it to return Airsoft products if you enter “toy gun”.

    In-the-end, I recommend people simply avoid searches from within Google’s “Shopping” section and just stick with a general search in the main default engine. Problem solved.

  20. Oh Michael and Manwhell, it is so good to see such tolerance for people’s opinions, phobias and paranoia. This country has become such a warm bed of tolerance that I’m sure our future is bright and shining.

    From one that doesn’t trust Google or our government, won’t you both kiss my big redneck ass!

  21. “Google is not CENSORING ANYTHING. They have transitioned to a commercial model where retailers who want to have their products listed in the SHOPPING search results will have to use a model similar to AdWords – a Pay-Per-Click model. I’m guessing no major companies (like CTD) have transitioned to the paid model and therefore there are no results. It’s no longer a FREE SHOPPING COMPARISON engine TO THE RETAILER. It will be free to the consumer.”

    Comment by Lee — June 28, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

    Incorrect Lee, Here’s a list of the new policy:
    Google Shopping policies
    The following products are not allowed on Google Shopping:
    • Vehicles
    • Guns, ammunition and knives
    • Tobacco and cigarettes
    • Traffic devices

  22. “Do just a little bit of research before you spout off on a topic you don’t understand. And to the rest of you claiming you’ll stop using Google products because of this, you are exactly the type of moron that shouldn’t be using a computer in the first place.”

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. God, you conspiracy theorist and backyard survivalist are stupid. The worst thing to come from the internet isn’t the spying every company does on us. It’s you, because you can’t even summon the basic amount of needed intelligence to understand why our cookies are being tracked. We need stop gun registrations and start registering people’s online usage, then maybe we’ll get an idea of who needs to be removed from the internet permanently.

  23. So don’t click on shopping. The search engine works fine. To be honest, I never noticed there was a “shopping” link to begin with.

  24. Do just a little bit of research before you spout off on a topic you don’t understand. And to the rest of you claiming you’ll stop using Google products because of this, you are exactly the type of moron that shouldn’t be using a computer in the first place.

  25. I do not use Google for anything. Google stores not only store information on the items you search but also your IP address. Since Google climbed in bed with NSA, I want nothing to do with them. I use a program called ixquick.com. Although they store your search criteria, they do NOT store your IP address. Do you really believe that Google is creating the “street” level database because they want me to look up the house I grew up in so I can relive happy memories. Yeah, right.

    and yes, I am about as paraniod as an individual can be at this point in history. My “trust” list is VERY short!

  26. Lee, you are wrong–partially. It is true that Google is transitioning to a commercial model and retailers have to pay. They are also banning all weapons and accessory kits. There is a copy of the letter they sent to merchants here

  27. Google is not CENSORING ANYTHING. They have transitioned to a commercial model where retailers who want to have their products listed in the SHOPPING search results will have to use a model similar to AdWords – a Pay-Per-Click model. I’m guessing no major companies (like CTD) have transitioned to the paid model and therefore there are no results. It’s no longer a FREE SHOPPING COMPARISON engine TO THE RETAILER. It will be free to the consumer.

  28. Ah, I see. I never actually realized that Google had the option to select “shopping” only. It doesn’t seem to have any effect on shopping results from web searches. I searched “handgun sales” from a web search and it brought up retailers and Internet gun sales. Google has wasted a bunch of time and effort on this. Will I go and buy an I-phone because of it? No.

  29. This is the very reason I will no longer deal in any way shape or form with PayPal and Ebay! I’m not a conspiracy theorist but one has to wonder if there isn’t secret political pressure being levied by anti-gun groups because they haven’t been able to make headway with gun control laws.

  30. I just did a Google search for “AR-15” and it brought up results like normal. I also searched for handgun, pistol, revolver and rifle and got many, many results every time. When is this supposed to take effect?

  31. I was set to go ballistic, bad pun I know, over this one. Then I noticed the subtlety: “shopping results”. Regular Google searches still yield my desired results. I’m not sure I’ve used Google Shopping in years until a few moments ago when I verified the described behavior.

  32. Troubling news, but just to be clear, this affects searches done through Google Shopping, not a regular Google search.

  33. Just tried again for Glock 19 using Google SHOPPING “Your search – Glock 19 – did not match any shopping results.”

  34. Seems like this free market that we live in, is getting more and more restrictive (especially after the SCOTUS decision from earlier today). Changing my search engine as we speak. Later Google!

  35. Hmm, I am finding that some guns are showing no results, and others are still showing several results. Is there some kind of press release from Google verifying this?

  36. Well, I guess it’s time for me to change my search engine to Bing and trade-in my Android phone for something else. What a pity.

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