JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Department of Public Safety accused Google of censorship for canceling a recruitment advertisement for state troopers considered to be political, but the tech giant said it was a miscommunication.
The pay-per-click advertisement shows civil unrest, talks about how Alaska is different and features Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy, who makes an appeal for people to come to Alaska to become a trooper. A pay-per-click advertisement is an ad where advertisers pay every time someone clicks it.
The one-minute video was scheduled to run on Google and YouTube, but Google refused to run the ad and deemed it political. It was not completely removed from YouTube, but the department was unable to pay for further distribution of the ad in which Dunleavy expresses support for law enforcement.
The Department of Public Safety issued a statement Thursday accusing Google of censorship.
“At a time of extreme unrest in our country, having a platform like Google make a decision that a statement of support for law enforcement should be censored is wholly unacceptable,” Commissioner Amanda Price said in the statement. “This effort from Google to hinder the efforts of the Alaska State Troopers to recruit qualified applicants to provide essential services puts Alaskans at risk.”
Google spokesperson Charlotte Smith said in response Friday that the rejection stemmed from confusion about the company’s definition of what constitutes a political advertisement.
Smith said it had nothing to do with the ad’s content but instead that it featured Dunleavy, an elected politician, and required it undergo a verification process. It was initially rejected because the verification paperwork was not submitted.
The verification process could take a day or two, but Smith said she saw no reason why the ad would not be up and running soon.
Department of Public Safety Communications Director Megan Peters said late Friday that she had not received word that the situation had been resolved.
“This statement is not political,” Dunleavy said. “It is an encouragement to law enforcement officers across the United States to consider serving Americans in Alaska that value public safety and a call for more Alaska State Troopers so we can continue to combat the high rates of domestic violence, sexual assaults and other criminal acts that threaten a peaceful way of life.”