According to Gizmodo, the search engine giant Google is tightening its policy over entities buying ads for federal elections in the United States. If people want to place ads on the company’s massive advertising network during said event, they must first show some ID. This will allow the company to verify if the people placing ads are either a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident.
The new policy is expected to take effect on July 10, which is just 4 months before the anticipated midterm elections for Congress. Interestingly, the news comes as online colossal such as Facebook and Twitter have faced scrutiny following Russian operatives using their sites to influence the infamous 2016 US presidential election.
It is worth noting that Capitol Hill lawmakers have since been pushing for legislation to regulate online political advertising, which is the same regulation they used in broadcast and print. Last year, Republican Sen. John McCain (Arizona) and Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota) and Mark Warner (Virginia) sponsored the so-called “Honest Ads Acts.” It basically requires all tech companies to, in one way or another, dispose any political ads’ target and price tag.
Sometime in November, executives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter testified before the US Congress in order to discuss the Russian interference during the aforementioned election. Since then, they all have been working hand in hand to ensure their respective platforms do not allow the same exploitations and manipulations to repeat. With the 2018 midterm election poised for November 6, it is only expected from these online entities to be much stricter with their ad platforms.
According to the new rules, Google will require individuals or groups – those who buy election ads – to undergo a process that requires a government-issued ID. It will also include information such as an IRS Employer Identification Number and/or a Federal Election Commission identification number. Google states that it will also look into setting limits, particularly on “issue ads.” Interestingly, Facebook has also tightened on the same type of ads lately.
The search engine company will even require more transparency around political ads. Meaning, ads should now carry a disclosure that reveals the person or group paying them. The company is expected to issue a brand new Transparency Report this summer (no exact date yet) and this is specifically designed for election ads. Moreover, the report will mention the person or group buying election-related ads as well as how much money they have spent so far. With that said, Google will build a searchable library of election advertisements.
Twitter, on the other hand, announced a new transparency effort (though it was made last year) surrounding ads on its network. This basically requires all political ads to disclose information such as amount spent on ad campaigns, the party responsible for the campaign, and any other affiliation with political candidates or parties. The same transparency is used to enable users to see why ads are specifically targeted on them.
Apparently, the company is still evaluating its options in order to beef up security for election officials, journalists, campaign managers and members, and the like. This is meant to safeguard anyone who might be at risk for online exploitations and attacks during the election.
Most, if not all, of the Russian interference efforts from the 2016 campaign period arrived in the form of issue ads. These are the type of ads that attempt to promote either discord or division among US individuals. So, it is only right for Google to move past that one. The company also believes that this effort will help them fight misinformation, which has become a real problem with the rise of internet technology.