Jan 13, 2021 - Technology

Scoop: Google pausing all political ads following Capitol siege

National Guard troops march toward Capitol
Members of the U.S. National Guard arrive at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 12. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Google informed its advertising partners Wednesday that beginning Jan. 14, its platforms will block all political ads, as well as any related to the Capitol insurrection, "following the unprecedented events of the past week and ahead of the upcoming presidential inauguration," according to an email obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: Political ad bans are designed to curb confusion and misinformation surrounding highly sensitive events. Google says a limited version of its "sensitive event" policies went into effect after the violent events in the Capitol on Jan. 6.

  • Google lifted a ban on election ads in December after the Nov. 3 election and ahead of the Georgia runoffs.

Details: Advertisers will not be able to run any political ads or ads "referencing candidates, the election, its outcome, the upcoming presidential inauguration, the ongoing presidential impeachment process, violence at the U.S. Capitol, or future planned protests on these topics," according to the email.

  • "There will not be any carveouts in this policy for news or merchandise advertisers," the notice reads.
  • The ban will apply broadly to any ads running through Google's ad tech platforms, including Google Ads, DV360, YouTube, and AdX Authorized Buyer.
  • Google says it will also be "extremely vigilant" about enforcing its longstanding Dangerous and Derogatory Content policy, which prohibits any ads that promote hate or incite violence.

The big picture: Google's announcement is in line with a broader strategy that the tech giant has been using for years to prevent confusion around sensitive events.

  • For example, in March and early April, it implemented a temporary ban on advertising with COVID-19-related terms to stop confusion from spreading around fake goods or price-gouging related to the pandemic.
  • Facebook's ad ban is still in place following the election.

What's next: Google says it will "carefully examine a number of factors before deciding to lift this policy for advertisers," but that the current plan is to keep this policy in place until at least Jan. 21, after inauguration.

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