Google announces new policy for political ads before EU vote
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Google announces new policy for political ads before EU vote

After the last U.S. general election, and a slew of elections around the world, pressure is on Alphabet (the parent company of Google), as well as social media companies like Facebook and Twitter, to be more transparent in its dealing with political advertisements. Now, Google has said it will roll out new policies designed to deal with these criticisms ahead of the European Union elections next spring.

As negative sentiment roiled the market at the end of last week, Alphabet’s share price declined by nearly 2%

graph 2611 google

Source: Yahoo Finance

It was concerns over privacy, fraudulent political ads, and fake news, that kicked off the tech backlash earlier this year. And while it was Facebook that was originally implicated in these conversations, it quickly spread to Google, Twitter, and other big names (for Dominion’s view on the recent negative sentiment that’s weighing on markets, see last Friday’s analysis by Global Trends Ecommerce Fund Manager Fred Baccanello here). After a dicey few months that has included fines from the EU and multiple negative headlines (but, notably, which doesn’t seem to have hurt Alphabet’s business), the company is making its boldest move to appease naysayers.

A particular point of contention for Alphabet’s critics has been the lack of disclosure over who is paying for specific political ads. This snowballed from revelations that multiple misleading political adverts were bought by ‘bad actors’ in the US general elections, and put before an enormous proportion of the electorate. As a result, a number of big players (all the companies named in this piece so far, as well as other companies with an interest in tech and advertising) signed a joint code of conduct in Europe to fight fake news and obfuscation over the source of political ads. On Thursday, Google said it would require advertisers to submit an application and receive verification. From January, political advertisers will have to provide documents such as party registration forms or European IDs.

In a blog post, Lie Junius, a Google EU public policy director, wrote: “We’re thinking hard about elections and how we continue to support democratic processes around the world, including by bringing more transparency to political advertising online.”

Disclosure

Dominion holds Alphabet in its Global Trends Managed Fund.


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