Late on Friday, news came out that Google committed $250 million at $50 million per year over the next five years, to develop an internal program that will help the search engine spread awareness about drug abuse, and combat rogue online pharmacies.
The commitment is part of a settlement with shareholders over a suit related to Google’s former allowance of ads from such pharmacies from outside of the U.S. The company has also agreed to pay $9.9 million in legal expenses for plaintiff lawyers.
Reuters first reported on the settlement after coming across documents filed in a California court, and shares this statement from a Google spokesperson:
“We’ve been investing very significantly to fight rogue online pharmacies, and have stopped millions of ads from appearing. This settlement will continue and expand these ongoing efforts to keep users safe online.”
In 2011, Google was forced to forfeit $500 million for allowing Canadian pharmacies to place ads through AdWords. The money was dispersed to various law enforcement agencies the following year.
Last summer, Google posted a big update about its continued efforts to combat rogue online pharmacies, following comments from Mississippi AG Jim Hood accusing the company of “profiting handsomely from illegal behavior” by not doing enough to keep illegal drug content out of its search results.
Google said its efforts would involve keeping ads safe, keeping search results free of illegal content, as deemed so by the court, updating its autocomplete predictions, enforcing YouTube guidelines, and working with regulators and the industry. More about the specifics here.
The shareholder suit was filed in 2011 after Google’s government settlement.
It’s unclear exactly how Google will be making anti-drug abuse content more visible, but the company said its new settlement will enhance efforts it was already taking.
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