Perhaps Joseph Heller or some other master of dark comedy would have enjoyed this. Early Monday I received e-mail notice from Google that it has suspended an online ad for my new book, which raises questions about the atomic bombing of Japan in 1945, killing over 200,000 people—claiming that it “promotes violence.”
Of course, quite the opposite is true, but no matter. And there’s a deeper irony. Ads for a book about suppression have now been suppressed.
[UPDATE Wednesday: Despite my efforts for an explanation, and protest by many, Google failed to respond, nor returned ad to active status. Some sites offered to run the ad for free. Finally, after a press inquiry, I received notice that the ad could go "active" again. For more, contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or see my blog. ]
The book, Atomic Cover-Up: Two U.S. Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and The Greatest Movie Never Made probes the US suppression of unique color film footage, shot by a US military unit, in the atomic cities for decades. The two-minute trailer, posted at You Tube last Friday, describes this and shows brief excerpts from the hidden footage, at its start and finish. More background here.
Yet the letter from Google’s “ad words team” explains: “Thank you for using Promoted Videos. Unfortunately, one or more of your promotions has been suspended.” And: “At this time, Google policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that contain the promotion of violence. As noted in our advertising terms and conditions, Google may refuse any ads or terminate any of your ad campaigns at any time, for any reason.”
As for policy: “Promotion of Violence: Unacceptable Content: Google strongly believes in the freedom of expression and therefore offers broad access to content across the web without censoring search results.” The video itself has not been pulled from YouTube but one wonders if that’s next.
Of course, the irony is that the very subject of the book, and trailer, is the United States’s hiding content that revealed the full effects of the new weapon, helping pave the way for a costly nuclear arms race and a proliferation of other nuclear dangers. That was the ultimate “promotion of violence.”