Google limits political adverts

Recent reports from Google suggests the website will no longer permit political campaigns to be part of advertising based on people’s political inclination.

As per the new regulations, campaigns won’t be able to view the database of prospective voters against the web search’s user base. The voters will therefore not be able to target individuals on platforms such as Google search and YouTube. Based on reports, the policy will commence in the UK “within a week”, to be followed later by other regions. Experts however reveal campaigns can still target according to gender, age and location.

Furthermore, an action on misleading statements in the advertisements will also come into effect, putting it at odds with Facebook.

Sources report Mark Zuckerberg said his social network would not check facts on advertising from campaigns and political candidates. Twitter on the other hand said it would ban political advertising altogether.

The new policy introduced by Google puts it somewhere in the middle and suggests a hands-off approach. The latest introduction reveals that action will be taken on only the most obvious misinformation.

“We recognize that robust political dialogue is an important part of democracy, and no one can sensibly adjudicate every political claim, counterclaim, and insinuation,” commented Scott Spencer in a blog on Wednesday. He is the head of Google’s product management for Google Ads.

“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,” he added.

Google makes an assumption about the user’s political inclination based on the frequently visited websites and browsing habits.

The practice of targeting people based on their political leaning is a common practice in the UK but not in the other countries.

In other countries it is however possible for campaigns to get access to their list of contact details, a database of party members. Google would then match it with the users on their service, this way ads would reach the people directly. However this will no longer be allowed.

Figures reveal political advertising uses a small amount of Google’s total advertising revenues, which came to a total estimate of $116bn in 2018.

£171,250 have been spent by Google since March 2019 on political advertising in the UK.  In contrast, campaigns in the US has spent $128m on Google ads since the firm began to publish data in May 2018.

The “Trump Make America Great Again Committee” has been the biggest spender with $8.5m on Google.