Google Cracks Down On Election Ad Abuse

John Lister's picture

Google is to tighten up its rules on election-related advertising. It will restrict who's allowed to place such an ad and give the public more detail on who's behind elections ads.

The new rules will cover election ads purchased on Google in the US. It doesn't yet appear the rules will affect ads that simply address political issues rather than specific candidates and campaigns.

One rule is that anyone placing an election ad will need to prove they are either a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident. While this becomes law, Google says it will tighten its enforcement by requiring proof that includes government-issued IDs.

Who Placed Ads To Be Revealed

All election ads will also need to include "a clear disclosure of who is paying for it." Of course, that only covers who actually pays the money to Google and won't necessarily reveal the original source of the cash. Later this year Google plans to release a special report detailing which people and organizations are placing election ads and the total amount they have spent. (Source:

Google is also developing a searchable library of election ads that will let people find all ads placed on the site (and who placed them). That's key, as normally web users will only see ads specifically targeted at them. The library might reveal cases where campaigns are providing contradictory messages to different segments of the electorate - something that's perfectly legal, but politically questionable.

Electoral Officials Get Added Protection

The measures are similar to that which Facebook is taking to reduce the risks of its advertising platforms being misused and abused during electoral campaigns. (Source:

As part of it's election-related work, Google is also trying to reduce the risk of phishing and other security attacks relating to the electoral process. It's offering campaign staff, journalists and elections officials specialized training in avoiding such attacks, along with enhanced security tools for their accounts.

What's Your Opinion?

Are such measures adequate to stop unsuitable political advertising by foreign powers trying to interfere in US politics? What responsibility if any should sites like Google and Facebook bear when it comes to electoral ads? How can they balance protecting electoral integrity and avoiding accusations of stifling free speech?

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rshackel_3934's picture

If so, that's a loophole big enough to drive a Russian tank through...

russoule's picture

does anyone else find it strange that there is so much hullabaloo over "internet" political advertising and very little to none over newsprint advertising? is this going to be the new normal, New York times publishes political ads without any question but Google and facebook and twitter and all other on-line information providers will have to "vet" their ad-buying-customers? how about you, Dennis? are you now going to be REQUIRED to check-out any political ads that might be placed on YOUR blog? such a shame.

Watcher007's picture

This all started because a bunch of whiny baby liberals couldn't live with the fact that Trump beat Hillary fair and square. The dozen or so Russian entities that spent according to some accounts less than $200K on ads attacking both Trump and Hillary had zero effect on the outcome of the election. If they are about to pass laws restricting campaign ads to US citizens only then will people like Obama, John Kerry and Jimmy Carter stop meddling in elections overseas. This is BS!! These fascists are chipping away at our freedoms one by one 1984 style.