With several elections on the horizon, the main Internet and social networks (and advertising) platforms have taken some measures to restrict political announcements and, in passing, curb the reach of fake news. Twitter and Facebook have already put their cards on the table and now Google, after the impeachment of Donald Trump that took place yesterday in the United States, has also announced some changes in its policy of political announcements.
He has done so through his official blog, where he states that "given the recent concerns and debates about political advertising, and the importance of shared trust in the democratic process, we want to improve voter confidence in political announcements that can see on our advertising platforms. " Summarizing the measures, it can be said that Google has limited microtargeting even more, allowing segmentation by age, sex and general location.
Advertising yes, but less segmentedRELATED
Google is aware that restricting the possibilities when segmenting can reduce your revenue, but the company has not been worried. In fact, these changes will be applied worldwide "regardless of the cost or impact of spending on our platforms", since they believe that "these changes will help promote confidence in digital political advertising."
Google currently offers three formats for political advertisers: search ads (which appear when a user searches, for example, "Donald Trump"), YouTube ads (which also generate revenue for youtubers) and graphic ads ( which are the ones that appear on the websites). They will continue to exist, but it will be more difficult to refine the public.
Why? Because while Google has never allowed granular microtargeting, from now on political advertisers will only be able to direct their ads using age, sex and general location at the zip code level. It should be noted that it will still be possible to use contextual guidance, such as showing ads related to the economy to voters who have interacted with economic news, for example.
From now on the candidates will not be able to segment the ads using the political orientations of the citizens
For Google this means that its approach will "align" with that of traditional media, such as the written press or television. Thus, the option of filtering people by their political orientation (left, right or independent), something that so far could be done in the United States, ends.
On the other hand, Google has made it clear that "there are no exemptions" and that advertising policies will apply to everyone equally, whether they are politicians or sellers of refrigerators. Likewise, the company has reiterated that it is "contrary to our policies" that any advertiser makes a false claim, that is, that it advertise with false news or hoaxes, two elements to which the Deep Fakes are now added. Recall that we have already seen manipulated videos on which politicians appear saying things they have not really said or neural networks capable of imitating the voice of people of public relevance.
Scott Spencer, VP and Product Management of Google Ads, recognizes that applying these changes will take time, although they will begin to apply these new policies in the United Kingdom in a week, just in time for the general elections that will take place on December 12. They will arrive in Europe at the end of the year and the rest of the world as of January 6, 2020.
Following Twitter and Facebook
With these new advertising policies Google joins the other two large advertising platforms, Twitter and Facebook. Both companies have already announced how they will face the political announcements as of now and, in the case of Facebook, the company's position has not been without controversy.
Twitter took the lead in late October in a very resounding way: no political announcements. In the words of Jack dorsey, CEO of the company, "we have made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter worldwide. We believe that the scope of the political message must be earned, not bought." This new policy will come into force tomorrow, November 22, and there will only be one exemption: voter registration support, since in the United States you have to register to vote in each election.
Facebook, meanwhile, has preferred to be less tough. Zuckerberg defended the purchase of political messages on the social network (remember that the Facebook ad platform includes Instagram), even if lies are published. For the founder of Facebook, restricting these ads is against freedom of expression. In the words of Zuckerberg:
"We do not verify the political announcements. We do not do this to help politicians, but because we believe that people should be able to see for themselves what politicians say. And if the content is of journalistic interest, we will not accept even if it conflicts. with many of our standards. "
According to Nick Clegg, Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications at Facebook, "we delegate to third party data verifiers to help reduce the spread of fake news and other types of viral misinformation, such as memes or manipulated photos and videos (…) However, we do not believe it is an appropriate role for us to arbitrate political debates and prevent a politician's speech from reaching his audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny. "
"Facebook exempts politicians from our third-party billing program"
In Clegg's words, "Facebook exempts politicians from our third-party billing program (…). This means that we will not send organic content or policy announcements to our external data verification partners for review. However, when a politician shares previously discredited content, including links, videos and photos, we plan to degrade that content, show related information from data verifiers and reject its inclusion in ads. " Now, there is an exemption:
"Facebook has had a journalistic interest exemption since 2016. This means that if someone makes a statement or shares a publication that violates our community's standards, we will still allow it on our platform if we believe that public interest in seeing it exceeds the risk of Today, I announced that from now on we will treat the discourse of politicians as content of journalistic interest that, as a general rule, should be seen and heard, however, according to the principle that we apply different standards to the content by the that we receive the payment, this will not apply to ads: if someone chooses to post an ad on Facebook, they must still comply with our Community Standards and our advertising policies. "
It matches the opinion of Katie Harbath and Nell McCarthy, Public Policy Director and Product Policy Director of Facebook, respectively, who in an opinion article published in USA Today stated that "anyone who thinks that Facebook should decide which politicians' claims are acceptable this question could be asked: Why do you want us to have so much power? "