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Google cracks down on shady finance and bans ads for payday loans

The unprecedented block goes into effect in July.

In the past, Google has nixed millions of ads for violating its policies. But Google has never banned entire categories outright.

Until now. The search giant announced on Wednesday that, starting in July, it will veto ads for certain financial services, primarily payday loans — loans that require repayment within 60 days or come with high interest rates. Civil rights groups have labeled these loans "predatory," and research shows that they stick borrowers with unexpected fees.

But ads for these loans are a lucrative business for Google, particularly in search. David Graff, Google's director of product policy, clarified that major (presumably legit) advertisers will not be affected in a post announcing the ban:

This change is designed to protect our users from deceptive or harmful financial products and will not affect companies offering loans such as Mortgages, Car Loans, Student Loans, Commercial loans, Revolving Lines of Credit (e.g. Credit Cards).

Since its genesis, Google has said its ads are useful for users. The company has had to balance that ethos with an unwavering view that Google is a neutral arbiter. In this case, the former view won out.

Google has tinkered with its own financial services offerings inside search, but sunset some of those tests earlier this year.

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