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Google latest tech giant to limit political adverts

By Lawrence Gash

Pressure mounts on Facebook to follow suit after giant echoes Twitter’s decision

is introducing limits on the number of political adverts on its platforms.

The technology giant has announced that political advertisers will no longer be able to target voters based on political affiliation. It also committed to controlling the misleading effect that “deepfake” technology can have on politics, particularly during elections.

In a blog post, Scott Spencer, a Google Ads executive, said: “Whether you’re running for office or selling office furniture, we apply the same ads policies to everyone; there are no carve-outs. 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.”

Google will be following Twitter who from Friday will ban almost all political advertising, only allowing some non-profit organisations and companies to promote messages about social issues, not politicians or parties.

Spencer’s comments will be seen as a dig at its rival Facebook. Since the Brexit referendum and Donald Trump’s election victory, the social media platform has drawn intense criticism for allowing advertisers to “micro-target”.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has yet to comment on whether he will follow Twitter and Google. In Facebook’s own ban on false advertising claims, politicians are currently exempted.

Spencer said that Google, which last year removed its “Don’t be evil” motto, had made its decision for principled reasons, regardless of any financial downsides. “Regardless of the cost or impact to spending on our platforms, we believe these changes will help promote confidence in digital political advertising and trust in electoral processes worldwide,” he said.

Unlike Facebook, political adverts make up only a tiny part of Google’s total advertising revenue.

FURTHER READING: Twitter pulls political ads

FURTHER READING: Google to collect and analyse millions of US healthcare records

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