Google on Wednesday after remaining under immense pressure to avoid being used to spread misleading information intended to influence voters updated how it handles political ads. The company said it has made its policy more clear on banning any advertiser, including those with political messages, sharing doctored or manipulated images or videos.
“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,” Google ads product management vice president Scott Spencer said in an online post.
Examples of banned ad material included ads or links to information making demonstrably false claims that could undermine voter trust or participation in elections.
“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 said.
“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.”
Before Google, micro blogging website Twitter took a similar innitiative saying, its new ban on political ads will cover appeals for votes, solicitations for campaign contributions and any political content. Twitter is defining political content to include any ad that references a candidate, political party, government official, ballot measure, or legislative or judicial outcome. The ban also applies to all ads, even non-political ones from candidates, political parties and elected or appointed government officials.
However, Twitter is allowing ads related to social causes such as climate change, gun control and abortion. People and groups running such ads won't be able to target those ads down to a user's ZIP code or use political categories such as conservative or liberal.
Political advertising makes up a small sliver of Twitter's overall revenue. The company does not break out specific figures each quarter, but said political ad spending for the 2018 mid-term election was less than USD 3 million. It reported USD 824 million in third-quarter revenue.