Following a report that the platform is being used for shady referrals by rehab clinic broker, Google has temporarily disallowed advertisements from addiction treatment clinics.
The global ban came after the Sunday Times reported last week that their undercover investigation showed that the Internet search giant had been allegedly profiting from the plight of addicts.
The Sunday Times claimed that Google has been “profiting from a practice banned in America in which brokers secretly reap millions of pounds from vulnerable people seeking treatment for addictive diseases in the UK.”
The media outlet said Google charged the referral agents as much as £200 or 270 U.S. dollars for each click-through.
The brokers, according to the Sunday Times also, advertise themselves as free advice helplines and can afford Google’s pricey ad rates because they reportedly get as much as £20,000 as a monthly commission by referring even just one caller to a private rehabilitation facility.
Following the report, Google banned ads from the rehab clinic brokers in the U.K.
On Sunday, Google announced the ban on treatment center ads in a statement issued to TechCrunch:
Google said: “Substance abuse is a growing crisis, and even as we’ve helped healthcare providers connect with people who need help, unfortunately, there’s also been a rise in deceptive practices from bad actors taking advantage of those in need.”
Describing the issue as a complex one “with varying degrees of regulation in different countries,” the company said it decided to stop ads in the addiction treatment center category on the platform.
Google also said it is consulting with experts to come up with a “better way to connect people with the treatment they need.”
Treatment center ads were stopped in the US in September last year, after a Verge report about the referral practice.
Google has imposed a temporary ban on addiction center ads globally following reports of questionable referral transactions.
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