On Wednesday, Global Powerhouse Google unveiled updates to its political advertising policy, now restricting narrowly how an advertiser can target an audience. With the new policy, election ads will only be able to target people based on age, gender and postal code.
The search giant also spelled out clearer guidelines on what kinds of ads are prohibited from its platforms. The company said “deepfakes,” or digitally doctored images and videos, aren’t allowed. Google is also banning “demonstrably false claims that could significantly undermine participation or trust in an electoral or democratic process.” The company noted, though, that it’s difficult to judge every claim or insinuation made in an ad.
“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,” Scott Spencer, vice president of product management for ads, said in a blog post.
Google also said it’s expanding its database and transparency tools already available for federal election ads in the US. For those ads, people can see specific details about who paid for them and who they are targeting.
Starting Dec 3rd, Google will expand those tools to include state-level candidates and officeholders, ballot measures, and ads that mention federal or state political parties.
We’re proud that people around the world use Google to find relevant information about elections and that candidates use Google and search ads to raise small-dollar donations that help fund their campaigns,” Spencer said in a statement. “But given recent concerns and debates about political advertising, and the importance of shared trust in the democratic process, we want to improve voters’ confidence in the political ads they may see on our ad platforms.”
In October, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced in a tweet thread that the company would move to ban all political advertising on November 22nd. On Friday, Twitter released more guidelines, limiting how cause-based advertisers, like climate change and pro-choice advocacy groups, could target their ads. In October
Google’s new restrictions mirror Twitter’s policy in many ways, although Google stops shy of a blanket ban on political advertising. Still, the changes are likely to have a severe and immediate effect on the ad ecosystem, given the immense scale of Google’s ad network in comparison to Twitter. In the US alone, the company has run more than $127 million in political ads since June of 2018.