Google is displaying shoppable results and sponsored ads for high-capacity drum magazines, even though it is against the company’s policy to advertise gun parts that enhance the functionality of a weapon. A Google search for “.223 100rd” (short for round), the same type of magazine used by the Dayton massacre shooter, displays sponsored results on the right side of the page, with more links leading to buyable products on the Shopping tab.
As noted by Pinboard developer Maciej Cegłowski’s tweets, Google’s algorithms also fail to block search results for other gun accessories. A search for “AR 15 mod” does not turn up any results, presumably because it has been delisted by a manual filter. But spelling out “fifteen” bring up pages of sponsored, shoppable products, eluding that same block. The Google advertisement policy strictly prohibits ads for any part or component of a gun other than those designed to increase its safety, such as gun trigger locks.
When reached for comment, Google did not explain how or why the ads managed to appear in search results.
“Our hearts go out to the victims of this terrible tragedy. We have strict policies that govern the kinds of ads we allow on our platform, and ads for guns or gun parts are a violation of those policies. When we find ads that violate our policies, we remove them.”
At the time of publish, the ads are still online.
Cegłowski also notes that this is not the first time gun accessories have slipped through Google’s algorithms. Google previously displayed AR-15 bump stocks as buyable shopping results in February 2018, shortly after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. At the time, the company admitted the ads were a mistake caused by “human error.” It then overcorrected by banning all results with or related to the word “gun,” including merchandise from music groups Guns N’ Roses and Sex Pistols and the anime Gundam.