Google’s Updated Political Ads Policy Puts Pressure on Facebook

Google’s Updated Political Ads Policy Puts Pressure on Facebook

Google has announced plans to restrict political advertising on its platforms ahead of the UK General Election and next year’s US Presidential election, in a move which will further turn the heat up on Facebook.

Although the web giant claimed that it never allows controversial micro-targeting of election ads, it announced a further clarification of its policy on Wednesday to limit election ad targeting to “age, gender, and general location.”

It’s also explicitly banning deep fake content, misleading claims about the election process, and “ads or destinations making demonstrably false claims that could significantly undermine participation or trust in an electoral or democratic process.”

“Whether you’re running for office or selling office furniture, we apply the same ads policies to everyone; there are no carve-outs,” argued Google Ads VP of product management, Scott Spencer.

“It’s against our policies for any advertiser to make a false claim — whether it's a claim about the price of a chair or a claim that you can vote by text message, that election day is postponed, or that a candidate has died.”

That appears to put more distance between Google and Facebook, whose stance is that tech firms should not be the arbiters of what politicians can and can’t say — despite it having strict rules on false advertising elsewhere on its platform.

This position has invited heavy criticism from various quarters as tantamount to allowing politicians to lie — especially after Facebook rejected a request from Presidential hopeful Joe Biden to remove a Trump campaign ad containing misinformation about the former vice president.

“Of course, we recognize that robust political dialogue is an important part of democracy, and no one can sensibly adjudicate every political claim, counterclaim, and insinuation,” Spencer continued.

“So we expect that the number of political ads on which we take action will be very limited — but we will continue to do so for clear violations.”

Twitter has already announced a ban on virtually all political advertising, which will begin today.

The UK Electoral Commission, Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and the cross-party DCMS Select Committee have called for urgent legislation to regulate the "wild west" of political advertising, fearing that outside forces could sway elections and that secret micro-targeting of voters undermines the legitimacy of results.

Google has previously blocked political ads two weeks before polling in the Irish referendum and during the entirety of the recent Israeli and Canadian election periods.

Source: Information Security Magazine