REFORMED

Google has banned ads for bail bond services

Banned.
Banned.
Image: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
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Starting in July, the bail bond industry will no longer be able to advertise its services on Google. The company announced that the decision was based on its “commitment to protect our users from deceptive or harmful products,” and cited studies that show that “for-profit bail bond providers make most of their revenue from communities of color and low income neighborhoods when they are at their most vulnerable.” In 2016, Google banned payday lender ads from its site.

Following Google’s announcement, Facebook said it was also planning to ban bail bond ads in the near future. ”Advertising that is predatory doesn’t have a place on Facebook,” said in a statement Monika Bickert, head of global policy. The company is “seeking input from experts” on how to proceed on prohibiting bail bond ads.

In the US, the for-profit bail business is blamed for contributing to mass incarceration, and for criminalizing poverty. There’s a growing movement to ban money bail in the US, which is the only country other than the Philippines where it’s a for-profit business. Silicon Valley has more broadly taken up the cause of criminal justice in recent years, with both Google and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative donating tens of millions of dollars to different reform-oriented grants.

“At a time when corporations are finally being held accountable for their roles in enabling mass incarceration, it is encouraging to see a company as powerful as Google cutting ties with businesses that profit from incarcerating poor Black and brown people,” Rashad Robinson, executive director of civil rights groups Color Of Change, said in a statement. He added that the change comes after months of advocacy from his and other organizations. “We hope this decision encourages other corporations to take proactive steps to sever ties with the for-profit bail industry and end the incentives that fuel mass incarceration.”

This post has been updated with Facebook’s announcement.