Google will ban advertisers from trying to covertly spread political misinformation and will also prohibit ads containing hacked or stolen material, the company announced Friday.
Both changes are set to take effect Sept. 1, putting them in place roughly two months before U.S. voters cast ballots in November’s elections.
“Over the past few years, we’ve introduced political ads safeguards to prevent foreign interference, limit targeting and increase transparency in the election ads users see,” said Google spokeswoman Charlotte Smith, Engadget reported. “To bolster these efforts, today we are expanding our policies to prevent the coordinated spread of disinformation from domestic actors who conceal their identity and illegally obtained materials via ads.”
Specifically, Google explained it was tweaking its existing policy to prohibit advertisers who coordinate with other sites or accounts to conceal or misrepresent their identity with respect to content relating to “politics, social issues or matters of public concern.” Violators will have their Google Ads account suspended without warning and be barred from advertising with Google ever again.
Google also said it was launching a separate policy that will prohibit ads that “directly facilitate or advertise access to” hacked or otherwise stolen political material. It specified that ads discussing or commenting about hacked political materials will be allowed under the policy as long as they do not provide or facilitate direct access to those materials, and that violators will receive a warning before any further action is taken.
“We believe these new measures strike the right balance in helping preserve trust in our elections while allowing for robust dialogue and public discourse about current events,” said Ms. Smith, Politico reported.
Hacked materials stolen from Democrats leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential race were leaked online as Election Day neared, proving ample fodder for news reporters and Republican opponents alike.
The U.S. intelligence community has assessed those materials were sourced by Russian state-sponsored hackers. Moscow has denied responsibility.
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