Doctors raise concerns over quackery in Google ads

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Google needs to do a better job of filtering its advertisements and suggested links to avoid sending users to snake-oil-type sites, doctors say in a journal commentary.

In this week's issue of the British Medical Journal, Dr. Marco Masoni and colleagues at the University of Florence in Italy said they used Google Italia to search for the keyword "aloe" and found sponsored links to websites recommending aloe arborescens for the prevention and treatment of cancer.

Google's AdWords feature allows users to create advertisements, choose their own keywords and decide which Google queries their advertisements should match. The company then decides on which advertisements to show and in what order.

The authors argue that Google's automated matching to search terms sometimes presents inappropriate advertisements.

"Showing an advertisement that links aloe and cancer in response to a query with only the single keyword 'aloe' is inappropriate," the doctors wrote.

"Worse yet is when the website linked to has false medical claims. If improving the filter is too complex, it would be better simply not to display sponsored links in results of searches on medical terms or products."
I think the internet gives people more power to search out information and medical treatments at their own leisure, and doctor's shouldn't be opting to censor material that they think is "inappropriate". I agree there are some very obvious snake oil cures online, such as the countless numbers of pills you can order that claim all sorts of ridiculous things, but Western MDs should not be monopolizing medicine by calling all non-science based medicine quackery.

If people want to waste their money on crap, then it's their choice, and Google is only the messenger.