TECH

Google to Lift Political Ad Ban Imposed After Deadly Capitol Riot

Tech giant Google previously announced on January 13 that it would be banning political ads, in an attempt to curb the spread of misinformation, exactly one week after thousands of Trump loyalists broke past security barriers and stormed the US Capitol. A similar ban was imposed amid the November presidential election.

Google announced in an email to its advertising partners on Monday that its platforms would be resuming its past practices and allowing the publication of political ads, bringing to a close its nearly three-month, self-imposed ban.

The company revealed to its partners that political advertisements would be cleared to resume on Wednesday, and that it will continue to prohibit any ads publicizing “false information that could significantly undermine trust in elections or the democratic process.”

The tech giant further explained that in order for interested parties to resume their ads, individuals will need to use Google’s self-service appeals to have any existing adverts reviewed ahead of publication.

“If they are otherwise policy compliant, then our reviewers will approve the ad and it will be eligible to begin serving,” the email notes.

Google’s “sensitive events” policy officially went into effect on January 14, and subsequently barred all political ads that referenced the historic second impeachment of former US President Donald Trump, the inauguration of US President Joe Biden or the deadly riot that broke out at the US Capitol.

The ban, which stemmed from the company’s Dangerous and Derogatory Content policy standards, also made no exceptions for news or merchandise advertisers.

Both Google and social-media giant Facebook have served as the two most dominant advertising platforms when it comes to promoting campaigns, with the pair collecting billions in advertisements. However, once both companies instituted their own bans against such ads, the move effectively cut off a crucial pipeline that campaigners tap to fundraise.

Political strategists who spoke with Politico early on after the bans were imposed noted that in some cases campaigns put freezes on hiring new staff, as they sought to brainstorm new tactics to make up for the loss of funds collected through digital ads on Facebook and Google.

“When a candidate is running for the first time, they’re starting grassroots fundraising from scratch, they’re recruiting volunteers from scratch, they’re building their name ID from scratch,” Caitlin Mitchell, a Democratic strategist who served as a senior digital adviser to both Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) presidential campaigns. 

“If there were more options that were as powerful as Facebook, it’d be less worrisome, but Facebook is often the No. 1 way to reach those audiences.”

Unlike Google, Facebook has not yet lifted its own ban on political ads, and it’s unclear if it ever intends to do so. Earlier, the social media company temporarily lifted its ban in regards to the Senate runoffs elections in Georgia, which ultimately determined that Democrats were in control of the congressional chamber.

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