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Google's updated ad policy will still allow politicians to run false ads

Google announced updates to its political ad policy on...

Posted: Nov 21, 2019 8:56 AM

Google announced updates to its political ad policy on Wednesday, but made no apparent changes to how it will treat lies pushed by candidates. The most significant change is that it will restrict how political ads can be targeted on its platforms.

As the 2020 US presidential election approaches, how online platforms will deal with misinformation and outright false claims by politicians has become a hot-button issue. Google — which has taken in tens of millions of dollars in political advertising in the United States since last year — has been until now notably quiet in the debate surrounding how online platforms handle political ads.

President Donald Trump's reelection campaign ran an ad in October on Google-owned platform YouTube that falsely accused former Vice President Joe Biden of corruption for his role in Ukraine policy during the Obama administration.

A Google spokesperson confirmed to CNN Business on Wednesday that the ad would still be allowed to run on Google's platforms.

This stance comes even as Scott Spencer, a Google vice president, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday, "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."

In the policy update, Google focused on misleading ads related to voter suppression and election integrity, not claims targeting candidates.

"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. 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," Spencer wrote.

In recent months, Facebook has come under fire for exempting politicians from some of its ad policies. But in a tweet on Wednesday, Facebook reminded users that not even politicians are exempt from its policies banning voter suppression.

"We prohibit voter suppression in all ads," Facebook said.

Under Google's new targeting policy, political advertisers will only be able to target ads based on a user's age, gender, and post code -- rather than being allowed to target voters using more granular methods. Facebook allows political advertisers to upload lists of voters to target, for instance.

Brad Parscale, Trump's campaign manager, responded to Google's move to limit targeting and the clarification on misleading ads by accusing the tech industry of trying to "rig the elections."

"It seems like they're targeting Trump because he's the big dog, but they're also aiming at Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren," he said in a statement. "And they won't stop until they are satisfied that they control all of digital political speech."

Campaign spokespeople for Sanders and Warren didn't immediately respond to a request for comment

Political advertisers on Google will still be able to target ads at people reading or watching content about a particular issues, like the economy, Google said in a blog post.

In addition to its ad targeting announcement, Google said that beginning next month it will disclose information on a wider range of political advertising, including "U.S. state-level candidates and officeholders, ballot measures, and ads that mention federal or state political parties."

Facebook said in its tweet that the company is considering ways to refine its approach to political ads, and that unlike Google, its ad transparency project has always included state and local political advertisements.

Some analysts who study political advertising said Google's changes to cover state and local politics could improve ad transparency, but that there remain areas for improvement.

"They still do not seem to cover issue ads, PACs, and other dark money groups," said Damon McCoy, an assistant professor of computer science at New York University. "These issue ads, PACs, and other dark money groups might still have access to a larger range of targeting options. If this is the case, then that is a large loophole in Google's attempts to limit micro-targeting and political ads."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 28770

Reported Deaths: 1092
CountyConfirmedDeaths
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Madison124234
Jones109149
Neshoba97070
Lauderdale89479
Rankin86012
Forrest82942
Harrison79410
Scott75715
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Jackson55716
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Lee51816
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Washington5129
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Lowndes45912
Lincoln43734
Lamar4317
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Pike39312
Monroe37529
Lafayette3684
Attala35523
Newton3329
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Covington3175
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Panola2956
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Simpson2713
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Clay24410
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Claiborne23910
Marshall2123
Smith21111
Clarke20424
Coahoma1906
Union1819
Walthall1794
Kemper17614
Yalobusha1667
Lawrence1621
Carroll16111
Humphreys1309
Itawamba1308
Tippah12711
Webster12610
Calhoun1244
Montgomery1242
Hancock12313
Tallahatchie1153
Jefferson Davis1074
Prentiss1003
Greene968
Jefferson963
Wilkinson929
Tunica903
Amite842
George753
Tishomingo731
Choctaw724
Quitman690
Perry634
Alcorn601
Stone541
Franklin392
Benton270
Sharkey270
Issaquena81
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4532143
Montgomery3875102
Mobile3797134
Tuscaloosa210739
Marshall162210
Lee124537
Shelby110923
Madison11047
Morgan10203
Walker87123
Franklin86314
Dallas8419
Elmore83614
Baldwin7359
Etowah64413
DeKalb6415
Butler60727
Chambers60027
Tallapoosa57269
Autauga55312
Unassigned50724
Russell5030
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4576
Houston4464
Limestone4290
Cullman4114
Pike4075
Colbert3775
Bullock3649
Coffee3592
Barbour3331
Covington3327
St. Clair3192
Marengo29911
Hale29621
Escambia2936
Wilcox2848
Talladega2827
Calhoun2805
Sumter27912
Clarke2686
Dale2620
Jackson2522
Winston2373
Blount2181
Pickens2176
Chilton2152
Marion20613
Monroe2052
Choctaw19212
Randolph1889
Conecuh1866
Greene1788
Macon1778
Bibb1761
Perry1541
Henry1303
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Washington1027
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