Skip to content

What Friends are For


So this was in my e-mail box this morning.

Now what? How ridiculous is it that "On the Psychological Continuum," to say nothing of an article against rabbit fur, is on the same page as Gabriella's Fur Den?

The ads I see today have nothing to do with animal cruelty–the opposite is true. Perhaps there is a filter of some find at work. Or perhaps it's my lucky day.

Either way, I will contact the kind people who asked me to be part of this venture, and inquire about the odd juxtaposition above and the possibility of it occurring again in the future. I shall let you know what happens.

Last time I brought up this issue I received comments and e-mails about those of you who stopped using Google's service (and whom does it serve?) because of precisely this. There's got to be a better way to generate income. One where there is not the appearance, albeit not intentional, of a profoundly contradictory message. 

I may have just gotten myself fired from Animal Rights Zone.

Here's my question for you. Is this a big deal for you? Is this like eating at a non-vegan restaurant, where by doing so you support animal use and abuse? Is it like buying those shoes that have no animal products but are made by a design house that uses animals regularly?

Is this a Gray Matter for you at all?

If it's a matter of not getting your message out or getting it out with this one, admittedly-enormous glitch that might not soon be resolved, what would you do?


12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Yeah, Google Ads are still damn problematic. The main page is also sporting a Petland ad for "Puppies, Kittens, Exotic Parrots, Tropical Fish, Small Animals & More" at the moment.

    I get the need (or attempt) to generate at least a little money from blogs and Web sites, but this is a tough one for me to overcome. Regarding the ad I just mentioned, for example, do we ever want someone who's new to the notion of animal rights to come to an animal rights site, see an ad like that, and possibly take that as an endorsement of the practice of breeding and selling animals? Or if a "humane," "green" fur ad pops up because of a post condemning fur, do we want newcomers to see that? It's different, for me, from your example of eating at a non-vegan restaurant because in this case, the site (and therefore the ad) is being *hosted* and advertised, not just visited, by animal rights advocates. That's worlds different in my view.

    I know there are socially conscious ad programs out there that I can't imagine would promote ads such as fur ads, but I don't know how easy/profitable they are.

    April 22, 2009
  2. Dan #

    I could be wrong, but it certainly seems that Google ads just scan the contents of your post and pull up ads according to the key words in the post content. So if you have "fur", Google ads pull up fur ads. If you have "hunting", Google ads pull up hunting ads. Etc.

    My opinion is that it is completely unacceptable – not a grey matter at all – if the blog is one that you're one of the main contributors to or promoters of. Where it becomes a grey matter (and perhaps completely acceptable) is when you're invited to write something on a blog you normally don't contribute to or promote, or when you've joined a forum to educate people, but it's an environmental forum or something like that.

    April 22, 2009
  3. Here's what I think when I see those ads… and it's only because I know the real story. It generally makes me more determined. If you know what I mean. I'm reinforced that furs, or whatever offense is being offered to "tempt" me is vile. It really crystalizes the good, (as in your case the message about animal rights) as opposed to the evil of animal exploitation.

    But… if I was not aware – and chose to believe the quick and easy, google ad instead… it certainly would be an effortless thing to do.

    On the brighter side though… Vegan ads, and "veg" food options are generated on animal ag and *meat* oriented sites too… (sometimes).

    It's good to know you question the possiblity of a "filter" at work. I was wondering if it was just my paranoid self to query.

    April 22, 2009
  4. Non-vegan here, but I am an activist in other areas, and an organization I am helping get started just launched a blog on blogspot (ie with google). I am choosing, for now, not to use adsense (despite a little temptation) precisely because of this reason. I don't want our message tainted by automatically posted ads.

    April 22, 2009

    I started to continue to shed light on the online
    world's most ubiquitous advertising system's important role as a
    global fur advertising platform.

    My hope is that such light will warm up Google's heart about the issue
    of the skin trade.

    (Sadly, my campaign is not the first to try to invite Google out of
    the skin trade.)

    Google is an advertising platform. Of its billions of revenue each
    year, 95% of more comes from advertising. Google is, in one sense, the
    world's most ubiquitous billboard.

    So, I'm wondering how long a billboard on Highway 101 in Mountain
    View, California, would last that advertised the skin of South China
    leopards, rabbits, dogs and cats.

    How many rabbit skin stalls would you allow your own front lawn before
    you got upset? 1? 50? 1000? (I'm guessing the number is pretty close
    to 1.)

    I'm also curious why so many people — from Treehugger to SuperVegan
    to Grist — cut Google so much slack.

    The most common defense of Google's fur ads on animal rights or vegan
    or treehugger sites is that, essentially, the ads are automated based
    on content filters.

    So what?

    Can you imagine using the phrase "don't worry, it's automated" to
    defend profiting from animal exploitation on your own property?

    VEGAN JANE: Gee, Bob, they're selling dog skin on your property.

    VEGAN BOB: Oh, that! Hey, don't worry, it's just automated. Must be a
    problem with the filters.

    VEGAN JANE: Gee, Bob, another South China leopard just got shot,
    skinned and sold on your 100% vegan property.

    VEGAN BOB: Darnit! Those damned Google filters again! Oh, well, must
    be a glitch. Just like yesterday, and the day before, and every day
    before that.

    VEGAN JANE: Well, Bob, looks like another week has gone by and your
    property is still featuring billboards for dog skin pelts and mounds
    of leopard skin. I notice a pile of rex rabbit pelts over where the
    compost pile used to be.

    VEGAN BOB: Golly! Those darned filters!

    Just like SuperVegan, Grist, Treehugger and a few other site who are
    comfortable with fur ads appearing on their pages, at no point does
    Vegan Bob place the blame where it belongs — Google and you, the site
    owner — i.e., the people who are serving the ads. The people
    profiting from those ads. That's Google, and that's you.

    No matter HOW or WHY the Google fur ads are served, at least two
    things result:

    1) People see them. Valuable real estate on the site is given over to
    the forces of animal exploitation. Check THEIR sites. Rarely will your
    ads show up their sites. Why? Because they don't need to make money
    from Google. They're the guys PAYING Google to put ads on YOUR site.
    You are essentially working for them.

    2) When ANYONE clicks on those ads, the site owner makes money. Google
    makes money. Period. Google will write you a check and it will NOT
    specify which funds came from fur farms in Hebei and which came from
    Vegan Essentials.

    The real reason people continue to serve Google ads on their sites —
    despite its continuing to serve ads that are objectionable to the site
    owners — is because Google pays them.

    Take SuperVegan as an example.

    SuperVegan's site owners would rather defend the sale of fur on their
    site — which continues even now — than actually criticize the
    company serving the fur ads on their site.

    They blasted Aretha Franklin for NOT wearing fur at the inauguration,
    but didn't have a single unkind word about Google, who was peddling
    chinchilla fur right above Aretha's photo.

    Does SuperVegan love Google more than Aretha Franklin for some reason?

    Of course, they do. Because Google pays them.

    But, gee, "it's automated."

    Yep, it's automated. So are the payments. So, increasingly, are the

    April 23, 2009
  6. ethix view #

    Using stylized cutesy seal pups as a part of the AnimalRightsZone logo is even more objectionable than automated search ads since this was a deliberate choice made by self-described "activists" and "advocates". It is akin to using "suicide foods" (the depiction of animals as happy participants in their own slaughter) in ads or PETA protesters waving their placards in front of KFC smiling at motorists as if they are selling cosmetics. The message becomes loud and clear that the suffering of animals is not something to be taken seriously.

    It's bad enough to be surrounded by this attitude on a daily basis, but when it comes from informed individuals, it's even more frustrating.

    April 23, 2009
  7. Duke… Wow! Now that I see it presented in this way, I see that Google ads aren't harmless at all! I never realized it in the way you give the scenario of Vegan Bob & Vegan Jane. And you are absolutely correct… that the compromises are just not acceptable (for me anyway). As soon as I click from here I'm signing on to
    GoodSearch. Thanks for the clarification. 🙂

    April 24, 2009
  8. Hi Bea,

    Unfortunately, is advertising fur too, (see this post: and thus you’d not be supporting a fur-free search engine by using, which is powered by Yahoo!

    Indeed, Yahoo has had a an advertising-sharing deal with Google, so much of Yahoo's search advertising is also powered by Google.

    I just looked on GoodSearch and found an ad for this furrier: among others.

    I've contacted the people at GoodSearch about this problem, and they said they would look into it, but apparently, they've been unable to get themselves out of the fur advertising business.


    April 25, 2009
  9. mary martin #

    Duke sent me this this morning . . .

    April 25, 2009
  10. Dan #

    I'd like to emphasize what everyone knows well here: fur is not the problem; ALL and any animal products advertised are the problem. There's no way you'll get me more interested in removing fur ads than wool, leather, or dairy ice cream ads.

    April 25, 2009
  11. Aargh – is right! Plus it's making my browser hang up too –

    Dan – sure… I realize that "just" the fur is not the problem… nor just the icecream, nor just the rodeos, etc. It's absolutely ALL of it. Even shopping at any grocery store – my wonderful food is a mere 20 foot away from the rest of "it".

    How is it said? The world has become a place which I cannot permit myself to live.

    But short of a cave or island – Guess the world of Google compromises is what we're stuck with. 🙁

    April 25, 2009
  12. Dan #

    My comment, Bea, was in response to the direction of this comment thread toward a fur fetish – similar to the fur and veal fetish of PETA in the 1990s. What happens after these fetishes? The "low-hanging fruit" grows back on the tree. What's the solution? Vegan education (which entails a rejection of speciesism).

    April 25, 2009

Leave a Reply

You may use basic HTML in your comments. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS