Google's Positive Policy Changes
September 4, 2017

In Light of Google’s Positive Policy Changes, Work Remains

As our 12 Days of Action campaign has recently ended, and while reflecting on our recent successes and the victories yet to come, I am struck by the sheer magnitude of the companies we embark on changing, including Google, a company we are all familiar with.

These massive companies with thousands of employees and hundreds of departments and millions in revenue are formidable targets. They are chosen because they shape culture. Companies such as Google and Amazon have become so intrinsic to our daily lives that it is difficult, if not nearly impossible for some, to discontinue use of their services and products.

Because of their position in our economy and our country, their choices carry great weight. The decisions these companies make often affect our lives more directly and more regularly than some legislation, and as such, it is important that we as consumers of these business and citizens of this country hold these companies to high standards of corporate responsibility.

At the National Center on Sexual Exploitation we take on the burden of holding these companies responsible to you in regard to ways in which they facilitate or profit from sexual exploitation. We do this with your help. We don’t take on targets lightly or back down from a challenge. We embrace our mission to defend human dignity and oppose sexual exploitation, and we work tirelessly to ensure that one day it be the standard, not the exception, for the companies driving and shaping our culture to do the same.

But one thing we all have to remember in our advocacy efforts is that at the heart of these companies are people. Human beings are making the decisions, not an amorphous office. Human beings, who go to the office in the morning and work hard all day and then go home and hug their children or have dinner with their parents or call a friend to just say “Hi.” We will not get as far as in fulfilling our mission if we do not appeal to the hearts of human beings making the decisions.

It is also important to remember these companies are enormous and not every department is in communications with another. Several of the targets we have on our Dirty Dozen list have many facets to their companies and just as many different ways of facilitating sexual exploitation. When targeting some companies, we have to tailor our efforts to a branch of the corporation, not to the company as a whole. For example, Google’s YouTube is on our Dirty Dozen list for hosting hardcore pornography and rape videos. And if you have been following along on our blog, you will know we are opposing Google on Capitol Hill. Google is lobbying against amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This law is shielding websites such as Backpage.com, that intentionally and knowingly facilitate sex trafficking.

But if you have been a NCOSE supporter for the last few years, you know we had a huge victory when Google removed pornographic apps from Google Play and when they stopped linking to pornographic advertisements on Google.com. Maybe you thanked them through our webpage.

All of this results in a complicated, perplexing conundrum that leaves us questioning where we stand on companies such as Google. Should we be thanking them or petitioning them? Condemning or praising?

I think the answer is much more simple than we believe. At the end of the day we must remember that we make our efforts for people and with people. We are fighting to defend the human dignity of every person. We are fighting to defend the dignity of those harmed by sex exploitation and enslaved by sex trafficking; we are fighting to defend the dignity of the general public from being unwillingly exposed to sexual exploitation by companies they trust, and we’re fighting to preserve the flame of human of dignity so that it shines long after the executives at the companies we work so diligently to change have come and gone. We’re even working to protect the wellbeing and dignity of the individuals, and their families, in leadership at the very corporations we take on.

We will not be able to fight effectively if we do not remember who we are fighting for and why.

The individuals who make the executive decisions at these corporations are people. Like all of us, some of the decisions they make are good and benefit the public good, and others seek to protect self-interest.

This means we want to acknowledge and thank Google and its leaders when they take meaningful steps towards reducing sexual exploitation. Positive change deserves to be recognized and commended.

But, we must also hold companies to account when their products or policies cause serious harm.

No corporation like this or the others NCOSE takes on will be changed overnight, , but incremental, meaningful steps toward defending human dignity will make for a future free from sexual exploitation.

That is a future I hope to see, and it is one I hope these influential companies will help us build.

Madison Darling

Director of Operations

Madison’s eagerness for advocacy was cultivated at the University of Alabama while studying Social Work, but began much earlier. In 2010, Madison created and ran the Suicide Prevention Organization which was recognized by the Alabama Department of Public Health and is now the basis for pending Alabama legislation. Madison has given over 120 presentations and keynote speeches on Teen Suicide Prevention in the Educational Setting.

After writing the educational curriculum for Blanket Fort Hope, an Alabama-based non-profit, she joined the staff as Education Coordinator in early 2015. Here, she spoke to over 1000 people on recognizing and reporting the signs of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST). She has been a keynote speaker for the Center for Financial Social Work, developed a Tattoo Parlor Intervention Program to train tattoo artists to recognize trafficking victims, and fostered interdisciplinary approaches to fighting DMST amongst Alabama agencies. Additionally, Madison owned and operated a sole proprietorship specializing in program development. Madison has developed programs for Blanket Fort Hope, the University of Alabama, and the Birmingham Police Department.

Madison is honored to serve the staff as Director of Operations and hopes to aid in optimizing the organization’s processes and procedures, as well as in supporting its growth for future fights against all forms of sexual exploitation. When not at the office, Madison enjoys taking in a comedy show, exploring Washington, D.C., finding the best local ice cream places, and relaxing on her front porch. 

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