In a move aimed at balancing user safety and creator freedom, Google announced a major update to its “Shocking Content” policy under Google Publisher Restrictions, scheduled to take effect from August 30, 2023.
The update is set to make gameplay content exempt from certain restrictions, altering the way gruesome, graphic, or disgusting accounts are defined within the gameplay context. Until now, the depiction of violence or disturbing images in gameplay content was largely restricted. With the new change, such content will only be considered offensive if it showcases acts of torture, sexual violence, violence against minors, or violence against real-name individuals or groups based on attributes linked to systemic discrimination or marginalization.
This policy adjustment comes as a response to the burgeoning gaming industry and the unique nature of gameplay content, which often includes fictional violence or graphic imagery as part of the gaming experience.
According to the official announcement, Google urges all AdSense Publishers to review these updates and assess how it may affect their site or app. If publishers believe their content was unfairly restricted under the previous policy, they can request a review or appeal on or after August 30, 2023, the date when the changes are set to roll out.
Google’s move towards a more nuanced understanding of different content types is a significant step. It serves as recognition of the unique qualities of gameplay content and the diverse needs of the digital content landscape. However, it remains committed to user safety, maintaining restrictions on content that could potentially harm or offend specific individuals or groups.