Ethan A. Huff
August 19, 2012
If you have ever done any sort of comparison shopping online, chances are you have probably used Google’s Shopping portal to pull up product information and compare prices. But if you live in the U.S. and try to use Google Shopping to buy vitamins, supplements, personal care products, and even many health foods, your search queries will now turn up blank, as Google has apparently blocked access to all vitamins and natural products for American customers.
Right around June 28 of this year, Google Shopping users first began noticing that search queries for many common health products like “vitamin C” and “fish oil” began turning up zero results, whereas before they would generate a copious list of vendors that offered these products, as well as corresponding price information. In the days and weeks that followed, these same users learned that vitamins and natural products in general were no longer showing up in Google Shopping.
When asked about the issue by several concerned shoppers, Google’s public relations team reportedly gave vague and incomplete answers about why natural products are no longer showing up in its Shopping section, even though they are still showing up in Google’s general web search area. Others with inside information claim that Google has quietly, without any announcement to the public or its venders, added vitamins, supplements, and other nutritional products to its “sensitive category” of products, which means they are completely blocked from Google Shopping searches.
In either case, Google Shopping users are now unable to search for nutritional products, which means it has become that much harder for the average person to access vitamins and dietary supplements online. And the venders that used to sell such products through Google’s site — many of these businesses had been paying Google to include their products as part of Google Shopping searches — are now watching their businesses decline, as Google holds a significant monopoly on the product search and comparison market.
“Google publishes a list of products in [the natural health] category that are blocked as a matter of corporate policy in the public interest. So shopping results for (things like) steroids are always blocked,” says the Healthy Chronicle, an online health blog sponsored by California-based supplement company iMedmart.com. “(But) we’re talking about something completely different here — Google is blocking whole categories of respected, brand-name products … from online shoppers for no stated reason.”
You can watch a video demonstration by iMedmart.com that illustrates the problem here:
And if you are still not convinced, try searching for the following vitamin and superfood items in Google Shopping yourself. Note that several of these items are merely health foods that Google has blocked, and are not even isolated vitamin or dietary supplement products:
• Vitamin C
• Camu camu
• Coconut water
• Vitamin B12
This is just a sampling of the many products that are no longer available through Google Shopping. And many other products, including some of the ones referenced in the above YouTube video from iMedmart.com, will pull up two random listings that, once clicked, lead to a useless selection page with no actual listings.
Vitamins, natural products still show up in Google Shopping searches in other countries
Oddly enough, these very same products appear to be showing up normally for Google Shopping users in other countries. Individuals in France, Australia, the U.K., and elsewhere say that they are not having any problems pulling up nutritional and dietary supplement products in Google Shopping — only American users seem to be having this problem.
Since Google does not provide live support over the phone, we were unable to speak with someone from the company to get an explanation. However, after reviewing Google’s list of “unacceptable product categories” (http://support.google.com), there is no official indication that vitamins, supplements, and other health products are prohibited from Google Shopping.
Meanwhile, if you search for things like Hostess Twinkies, Frito-Lay Doritos, and other unhealthy “junk” foods, you will pull up hundreds of search results in Google Shopping.
Glitch or deliberate censorship?
So what exactly is going on here, and why is Google refusing to plainly answer questions about the matter, or issue a public statement about it? And why is Google now quietly refusing the advertising dollars of a multi-billion dollar industry, which is being completely excluded from its Shopping module?
A vitamin vender who claims to have been able to reach a Google AdWords Specialist says he was told to contact Google’s legal department at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. This department could not immediately be reached for comment about the Google Shopping anomaly, but the vender believes the issue stems from the European Union (EU)’s recent ban on vitamins and herbs, and Google’s attempt to thwart potential trade sanctions by this socialist body (http://wearechangetv.us).
Call to Action: Contact Google and demand answers
At this point, it is unclear whether or not we are dealing with a unintentional glitch in Google’s system, or a deliberate censorship effort that seeks to withhold access to natural health products. So we are calling on all NaturalNews readers to utilize Google’s “Give us feedback” portal to inquire about the issue:
Upon accessing the form, select the “Something is broken and I can’t use Google properly” option, and explain that you are having trouble pulling up items like fish oil and vitamin C in the Google Shopping portal. Request that the issue be addressed, and also ask to have someone from Google contact you, whether by email or phone, with a followup.
Also, be sure to share this information with others, especially those who purchase vitamins, supplements, and natural health products online. It is important that we nip this in the bud as quickly as possible to ensure that our online access to the health foods of our choice remains uninhibited and uncensored.
This article was posted: Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 5:00 am