May 16, 2018
This month, Google is updating its political content policy and implementing new transparency rules for US election ads. The most noteworthy change is the requirement to provide proof of US identity to ensure there is no unlawful use of Google advertising during US elections. This verification process will take effect starting May 31, 2018.
“To be verified by Google, you’ll have to provide proof of your identity and information about where you’re based, as well as confirm that you’re a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, and are legally permitted to run these ads,” the Google AdWords Team says in an email to advertisers who may be affected.
According to a blog post by Senior Vice President Kent Walker, Google is also requiring advertisers to clearly disclose in their ad who is paying for it. Additionally, over the summer, Walker says Google will release a new Transparency Report with a special focus on election ads.
“This Report will describe who is buying election-related ads on our platforms and how much money is being spent,” Walker explained in his post.
A searchable library is also in the works, which will allow users to locate all election-related Google ads and to see who bought them.
“As we learn from these changes and our continued engagement with leaders and experts in the field, we’ll work to improve transparency of political issue ads and expand our coverage to a wider range of elections,” Walker said in the same post.
This recent advanced focus on election ad transparency online comes in light of discussions about the misuse of the Facebook platform during the 2016 US presidential election. The aforementioned changes by Google resemble those Facebook has made to improve transparency for pages and ads. For example, Facebook too is rolling out a searchable political ads archive this summer that allows users to see the political ads that exist on Facebook and the people who paid for them.
Since Google is not only a social platform but also a search engine experience with limitless uses, the company intends to make the platform secure from every angle, not just advertising.
“Our work on elections goes far beyond improving policies for advertising,” Walker added in his post. “We’re investing heavily in keeping our own platforms secure and working with campaigns, elections officials, journalists, and others to help ensure the security of the online platforms that they depend on.”
Verification appears to be the trending idea for platforms that are trying to boost security. Facebook recently said it will soon require advertisers to verify whether customer email addresses for ad targeting use were rightfully attained.