For ages I’ve had a couple of automated Google ads in the sidebar of this website, underneath my affiliated ads. They make me absolutely fuck all money (literally maybe a couple of pence a day) but I’ve always left them there cos they’re inoffensive. And hey, maybe one day I’ll have enough traffic that my ad revenue will be enough to, oooh, I dunno, buy a coffee or summat. Whatever the endless ‘how to make a fortune at blogging’ articles say, most people – myself included – don’t even cover their web hosting bills. So any extra income is welcomed, however tiny.
Except that last week I had an email from Google Adsense telling me that I was in violation of their terms and should immediately rectify the issue. Turns out that the issue is that I talk about ‘sex aids and lubes’:
Let’s look at that again…
None of the things on that list are illegal in the outside world (or in private, or anywhere – not in the UK, anyway). In addition, the phrase ‘may be considered unconventional’ illustrates the vagueness of these moral boundaries. What’s unconventional to me might be all in a day’s play to you. ‘Sexual aids or enhancement tools’ – given that companies such as Lovehoney now advertise on primetime television, can it really be argued that vibrators and personal lubes are unsuitable for public consumption? Trade figures would argue not – the adult industry (including the sale of sex toys and related consumables) is a massive and expanding market which is becoming more mainstream by the day.
But because I talk about sex – more specifically, because I talk about fun things that can be used to enhance sexual enjoyment – I can no longer run advertising on this website. Which, as I’ve already made clear, is hardly going to cause a huge slump in my income. But the suggestion that healthy discussion about adults having a fun sex life is somehow unpalatable makes me wonder about just how far we let web-based behemoths shape our lives and be our moral guardians, and whether or not that is a good thing*.