On Monday, Google announced that it will no longer allow ads from bail-bond companies.
This isn't the first time Google has singled out an entire industry. In 2016, it banned ads from payday lenders.
In a blog post, the company suggested that such ads constitute a "deceptive or harmful product," citing a 2016 study concluding that minority and low-income communities are typically most affected by such services. "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, including through opaque financing offers that can keep people in debt for months or years," Google wrote.
Also in 2016, another study found that "there are 646,000 people locked up in more than 3,000 local jails throughout the US," simply for their inability to pay a bond, which is what drives many people to the services of a bondsman.
Rashad Robinson, the executive director of Color of Change, one of the advocacy groups that has been pushing for such a change to Google's policies, said in a statement to Ars that this move is "necessary."
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… Google's announcement comes after months of advocacy by our 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.
The change will take effect in July 2018.