Skip to main content

Who knew that when AI started to assert itself, it would turn out to be a prude? It is a Handmaid’s Tale level prude. It is so prudish, it is impossible to predict what might have it blushing and wafting its virtual face with a CGI fan.

I seem to have developed the knack of being able to offend AI without even trying.

The latest example came when trying to update my author profile on Amazon. When I hit the save button, this message flashed up: ‘There is language within your submission that is in violation of our Content Guidelines. Please remove this content to create your submission.’

Admittedly, the text did reference murder, animal cruelty, and domestic abuse. But as this was part of a synopsis for a novel, I’d have thought there wouldn’t have been a problem with mentioning hard-hitting topics. I mean, how can an author describe what their novel is about if they have to stick to language befitting a Disney children’s movie? An ‘outraged’ message was whizzed off. Turns out it wasn’t anything about domestic violence or kicking dogs that had upset the bot, it was the mention of a website address, so I can’t really point the finger of prudishness in that direction.

Google, on the other hand, is unambiguously guilty.

Toilets, Cape Verde

Sorry Google, but toilets are an essential part of travel. Maybe not if you’re a robot though.

Google AdSense publisher policy violation reports regularly pop into my inbox, informing me of violations on my websites. And what are these violations? Sexual content apparently.

Sexual content on travel websites. Maybe there’s a niche market there. Maybe it’s already occupied. But not by me, as far as I know.
Anyway, thankfully Google’s policy centre has more details than the rather vague emails they send, so I’m able to see what pages have offended Google with their ‘sexual content.’

How to offend Google bots - The sexiest toilet in the world, Lisbon

Inside the ‘sexiest toilet in the World’ – Hmm, now that I look at it again, I can see why Google bots might be blushing.

One was a post about travel and toilets. It may not be in the best possible taste – it’s not easy to write a post about toilets and travel that is – but only a deviant (and maybe some bots are, we don’t know yet) could consider content that includes ‘Only then did I realise there was no paper, no means for washing… nothing except the hole in the ground. All I had in the pockets of my snow-white shorts was a wad of rupees. It was the most expensive toilet visit I’ve had to this day…’ as sexual.

Another web page reprimanded for sexual content contained an article about Ten Alternative Things to see in Lisbon.’ The sexual bit being a brief snippet about a self-proclaimed ‘sexiest toilet in the world.’ That reference seemed enough to have Google bots reaching for the AI equivalent of heart pills.

Cigar rolling, La Palma

Surely more interesting than offensive?

The third page that caused offense wasn’t because of anything to do with the sexualising of conveniences, it was because the content mentioned tobacco. Unsurprising really as it was an article about the women who still hand-roll cigars on the Canary Island of La Palma; thankfully not on their thighs as that would have no doubt earned a ‘sexual content’ violation as well.

So, what do I do with these warnings? Not a thing. All they mean is that some companies might not be happy with their Google ads appearing on such pages, and I don’t really care about that.

The more worrying problem is that of indirect censorship increasingly creeping in. These violations are clearly nonsense. But if Google bots are attempting to censor such trivial posts as these, what else is being quietly squashed? Thin edge of the wedge and all that. It’s ironic given the amount of truly offensive material out there.

Those AI bots have got to get a hell of a lot smarter before they’re in a position to intelligently sift through the messy and complicated sea of human-produced jetsam and flotsam on the internet.

Hi 👋, if you've enjoyed reading articles on my site...

Simply leave your email address to receive my latest news, book information, stories, Slow Travel hints & tips, poems, offers, & thoughts on professional writing in your inbox, every month.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Jack Montgomery

Jack is an author, travel writer, photographer, and a Slow Travel consultant who has been writing professionally for twenty years. Follow Jack on Facebook for information about his writing, travel tips, photographs, and tales of life in a tiny rural village in Somerset.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Menu

Welcome to my Canvas

Some of the items on this site won’t be to everyone’s liking, I get that. Basically this is my place, my wee studio to mess around in – experimenting with words and thoughts. I’ll be chuffed if you enjoy it, but if you don’t, c’est la vie. As a friend used to tell me “it would be a boring life if we all thought the same.”

Jack Montgomery
A wine press,
On a farm at the end of the dirt track,
The Setúbal Peninsula,