Google Now Lets You Block ‘Sensitive’ Ads on Pregnancy, Weight Loss and Dating

Google Now Lets You Block ‘Sensitive’ Ads on Pregnancy, Weight Loss and Dating
You can now pick from a longer list of sensitive of sensitive categories on Google. (Image: LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ / Contributor, Getty Images)

Some bad days can be made even worse with the unannounced arrival of a pop-up ad that triggers some unpleasant emotions. In order to help mitigate those ads, Google is adding new options on its “sensitive categories” list for user ad controls. The new options will now help users avoid seeing ads on weight loss, pregnancy, parenting, and dating.

The new topics will be added to Google’s sensitive ad categories, which was first introduced to limit people’s exposure to gambling and alcohol related ads. In December 2020, Google announced the new setting to its ads across YouTube and Google searches that allowed people to choose not to view ads on gambling and alcohol.

Before the new settings were introduced, users were given the option to “mute” a specific ad from popping up again, or other ads that they deemed similar to the one they just viewed. But now, the new feature will ban ads on the specified topics not only on YouTube or Google searches, but across Google’s Display network as well, which includes millions of websites and apps, Engadget reports.

Online users have grown increasingly flustered with targeted ads, which specifically cater to a person’s interests or traits. Some companies have already shown initiative to limit the possible harmful effects of those ads like triggering issues of addiction or body image. In November 2021, Meta, Facebook’s parent company, announced that it would remove targeting options for “topics people may perceive as sensitive,” such as health, race or ethnicity, political affiliation, religion, and sexual orientation. Earlier in 2019, Twitter banned political ads to avoid micro-targeting and misleading information. Google also recently blocked targeted ads for people below the age of 18.

Although Google cannot control if certain ads show hints of some of those topics, like a couple in a toothpaste ad or someone exercising in an ad for insurance, it can limit the more specific ads that pop up for people.

In order to access the ad controls feature, users can go to the data and privacy tab on their Google account, scroll all the way to the bottom and click on ad settings. There will be a list of sensitive ad categories, and users can choose which of the topics they would like to see fewer ads from.