CyberScout

Google to Throttle Political Advertising

Political Advertising

Google has announced major revisions to its policies on political advertising.

In a press release on its company blog, Google unveiled several major adjustments to its advertising policies relating to politics.

“[G]iven 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,” stated the blog.

The biggest shift in Google policy is the limiting of how audiences are targeted. After January 2020, advertisers will no longer be able to serve ads on the basis of voting history and political affiliation.

“[W]e’re limiting election ads audience targeting to the following general categories: age, gender, and general location (postal code level), the blog stated. “Political advertisers can, of course, continue to do contextual targeting, such as serving ads to people reading or watching a story about, say, the economy.”

Google also announced that it would ban ads deliberately serving false or misleading claims, including ads that promote the wrong dates and locations for polling, or fictitious candidate obituaries.

Online advertising has come under closer scrutiny following widespread reports of election interference during the 2016 presidential election cycle via manipulative or misleading social media and online content. While Facebook has drawn heavy criticism for its reticence to police political advertising of any kind, Twitter recently announced that it would ban political ads altogether.