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Google lifted the ban on political advertising on Thursday


alphabet Inc.’s

Google announced it would lift its political advertising ban on Thursday after being blacked out for more than a month amid concerns about misinformation in elections.

According to an email verified by the Wall Street Journal, Google on Wednesday announced to advertisers that it would lift its so-called Sensitive Events Policy and allow ads mentioning a current incumbent or candidate, political party, or electoral measure. Early voting in the Georgia Senate runoff will begin later this month. The January 5 runoff election in Georgia will determine which party controls the Senate when President-elect Joe Biden begins his administration.

“Although we no longer view the post-election period as a sensitive event, we will continue to enforce our advertising guidelines, which strictly prohibit misuse of information that has been proven to be false information that could significantly undermine confidence in elections or the democratic process, among other things,” Google said in the e-mail.

Google, along with Facebook Inc.,

are the largest digital advertising platforms in political advertising. Political campaigns and groups spent tens of millions of dollars in advertising on Google, the owner of YouTube, and on Facebook, which also owns Instagram, in the lead up to the general election to influence voters and get the vote. However, both platforms decided to restrict political ads before and after the general election to curb the spread of misinformation.

Google said in a blog post on Wednesday that it temporarily paused more than 5 million ads related to the 2020 US election, candidates, or their outcome when the election results were confirmed.

The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee welcomed Google’s move to re-allow political advertising, but said it was overdue. The committee also urged Facebook to lift its ban as well, saying the restrictions on political advertising were affecting public outreach efforts in Georgia’s runoff election.

The National Republican Senate Committee did not respond to a request for comment.

The Journal reported in mid-November that Google representatives had told some advertisers that it was unlikely to lift the ban in November or December. Facebook told advertisers at the time that it would extend its political advertising ban “for another month” and notify advertisers if it were lifted, which it has not done yet. A Facebook spokeswoman declined to comment.

Facebook and Google took further action against the spread of misinformation, particularly on election day and shortly after, when the votes were still being counted. Google announced on Wednesday that it has spent at least $ 1 billion on content moderation systems and processes over the past year and continues to invest in the space.

YouTube announced on Wednesday that it would be removing content that mislead people about the US presidential election result, as the so-called “Safe Harbor” period has expired – a formal move to confirm Mr Biden’s election victory – and enough states to see their election results have certified, it says in a blog post. For example, YouTube announced it would remove videos claiming that a presidential candidate won the election due to widespread software bugs or counting errors.

YouTube announced that it would step up enforcement in the coming weeks.

“While problematic misinformation is only a fraction of 1% of what is seen on YouTube in the US, we know we can reduce that number even further,” YouTube wrote on Wednesday. “And some videos, although not prominently recommended on YouTube, continue to get high views, sometimes from other sites. We continue to consider these and other new challenges as we make continuous improvements. “

Write to Emily Glazer at emily.glazer@wsj.com

Copyright © 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the print edition of December 10th, 2020 as “Google plans to lift the ban on political ads”.


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