Consumer groups that have campaigned against the payday loan industry are celebrating, claiming that Google has taken down over five million ads for payday loans since last July.
In the middle of last year, Google announced it would ban all ads for payday loans, since many lenders had turned to the internet to get around state laws limiting their activity.
Google announced the ban in May and implemented it July 13. It specifically affects ads for loans that require repayment within 60 days and ads for loans with an annual percentage rate (APR) of 36% or higher.
Facebook already has a ban on payday loan ads, but Yahoo and others still accept them. Consumers will still be able to find payday loans by conducting a Google search.
Coalition of consumer groups
Even so, Americans For Financial Reform, Center on Privacy & Technology, Center for Responsible Lending, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Consumer Law Center, National Council of La Raza, Open MIC, and Upturn lauded the results.
The groups cite a report from Google showing that five million payday loan ads have been taken down so far. And that's just a small percentage of the ads the company says it removed last year.
"In 2016, we took down 1.7 billion ads that violated our advertising policies, more than double the amount of bad ads we took down in 2015, Scott Spencer, Director of Product Management, Sustainable Ads, wrote in a blog post. "If you spent one second taking down each of those bad ads, it’d take you more than 50 years to finish. But our technology is built to work much faster."
Weight loss cures and fake diplomas
The offending ads included those that offer miracle weight loss cures or sell items like fake diplomas and plagiarized term papers.
“We greatly appreciate Google’s recognition that payday loans are dangerous, trap consumers in a spiral of debt and serve no useful purpose for consumers," the consumer groups said in a joint statement. "By blocking these ads, they have protected countless consumers and more companies should follow Google's lead."
As important as Google's action is, the groups took the opportunity to give a shout out to the besieged Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), noting that it has proposed regulations that, if finalized, would protect consumers from abusive lending practices.