Google announced Wednesday that it will ban all payday loan ads from its site, bowing to concerns by advocates who say the lending practice exploits the poor and vulnerable by offering them immediate cash that must be paid back under sky-high interest rates.

The decision is the first time Google has announced a global ban on ads for a broad category of financial products. To this point, the search giant has prohibited ads for largely illicit activities such as selling guns, explosives and drugs, and limited those that are sexually explicit or graphic in nature, for example. Critics of payday lenders say they hope the move by Google and other tech companies might undercut the business that finds huge numbers of willing customers on the Internet.

The move also shows the willingness of big tech companies to weigh in on critical policy issues – and exert their power as the gateways for the Internet. Facebook also does not display ads for payday loans. But others, such as Yahoo, still do.

Consumers will still be able to find payday lenders from a Google search. But the ads that appear on the top and right-hand side of a search results page will not show marketing from the industry beginning July 13.

“We’ll continue to review the effectiveness of this policy, but our hope is that fewer people will be exposed to misleading or harmful products,” Google global product policy director David Graff said in a blog post.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.