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.

Cases: 343505

Reported Deaths: 7543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23932444
DeSoto23229283
Harrison20527329
Rankin15411291
Jackson15232252
Madison10959227
Lee10719179
Jones9047169
Forrest8723159
Lauderdale7884244
Lowndes7054151
Lamar702989
Lafayette6548124
Washington5595139
Pearl River5196152
Bolivar4954134
Oktibbeha494398
Panola4771112
Warren4728128
Marshall4701106
Pontotoc447773
Union433279
Monroe4330137
Neshoba4281181
Hancock428088
Lincoln4176116
Pike3667113
Leflore3627125
Tate353388
Alcorn350974
Sunflower347694
Scott341176
Adams340988
Yazoo339376
Copiah324968
Simpson322891
Itawamba314680
Coahoma314085
Tippah306568
Prentiss298863
Covington293484
Leake285475
Marion284181
Wayne277543
George272251
Grenada269488
Newton262364
Tishomingo239770
Winston236784
Jasper230648
Stone229637
Attala226373
Chickasaw219060
Holmes200174
Clay197654
Clarke186880
Tallahatchie183742
Calhoun181332
Smith179235
Yalobusha171540
Walthall145748
Lawrence142826
Greene140134
Amite137543
Noxubee135235
Perry133538
Montgomery133044
Carroll126431
Webster121232
Jefferson Davis116734
Tunica114227
Benton106725
Claiborne105331
Kemper102429
Humphreys100133
Franklin87923
Quitman84719
Choctaw82619
Wilkinson78032
Jefferson71328
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 587405

Reported Deaths: 11536
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson853851591
Mobile48932864
Madison37517533
Shelby27280257
Tuscaloosa27171465
Montgomery26172627
Baldwin25399329
Lee17224181
Calhoun15401334
Morgan15170291
Etowah14954370
Marshall13116235
Houston12077293
Elmore10915219
St. Clair10763252
Limestone10725158
Cullman10546205
Lauderdale10255254
DeKalb9508192
Talladega8949188
Walker7793288
Autauga7563114
Jackson7400117
Blount7362139
Colbert6703142
Coffee6365132
Dale5650117
Russell480243
Chilton4771117
Covington4749125
Franklin458181
Tallapoosa4519156
Escambia441383
Chambers3949125
Dallas3743163
Clarke371263
Marion3463107
Pike332579
Lawrence3263100
Winston298773
Bibb290465
Geneva283983
Marengo262467
Barbour250961
Pickens245562
Butler240872
Hale235578
Fayette227065
Henry213945
Monroe202141
Randolph201144
Cherokee199248
Washington185239
Macon170552
Crenshaw168358
Clay166259
Cleburne161345
Lamar151038
Lowndes145455
Wilcox132331
Bullock126542
Conecuh121332
Coosa118329
Perry110528
Sumter110333
Greene99137
Choctaw64425
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