Universal Monsters too "shocking" for Google

We were surprised to see Google ads missing from Hollywood Gothique today. It turns out this is not a site-wide ban but rather "restricted ad serving" on half a dozen pages containing "shocking content." A perusal of Google's Prohibited Content Policies reveals that "shocking" refers to:

  • Content containing gruesome, graphic or disgusting accounts or imagery (e.g., blood, guts, gore, sexual fluids, human or animal waste, crime scene or accident photos)
  • Content depicting acts of violence (e.g., accounts or images of shootings, explosions, or bombings; execution videos; violent acts committed against animals)
  • Content with significant obscene or profane language (swear or curse words)

These prohibitions seem to describe depictions of real events or possibly torture porn, not Halloween fantasy entertainment. Nevertheless, one of the restricted pages is our preview of the Universal Monsters maze, posted in August. There is nothing particularly graphic about the post unless one counts a single piece of artwork (a variation of that seen at the top of this page). If that's all it takes to run afoul of Google, we don't see what we can do about it, unless we go into full self-censorship mode and simply stop posting anything remotely frightening. We would certainly prefer to be in compliance, but that may be impossible if even PG-level imagery runs afoul of Google's standard.

How this will affect us going forward, we do not know. Honestly, advertising money has dwindled away to such a trickle that this may not be worth fighting over. Nevertheless, it's sad to be accused of excessive graphic imagery when our preference has always been for atmospheric horror.

Presumably, the post you are reading now is making things worse by putting the Universal Monsters back on the home page, which has also been "restricted" for its "shocking" content. There's the irony: we need the image - not to revel in depictions of gruesome depictions of disgusting violence but simply to show you what we are writing about; unfortunately, simply reporting on made-up fantasy horror may be too much for Google.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.