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Simon Steinberger

According to their 2016 Bad Ads report released Wednesday, most were consumer-related hoaxes. By the numbers:

  • 68M ads for pharmaceuticals (Up 137% from 2015)
  • 80M ads for deceiving and shocking users
  • 5M ads for payday loans
  • 112M trick-to-click ads containing malware (Up 600% from 2015)
  • 1,300 accounts disabled for 'tabloid cloaking' or pretending to be real news

They also targeted fake news publishers: Google reviewed 550 sites in November and December that they thought pushed deceptive content, including mimicking news organizations to look authoritative and real. 340 were punished, and 200 permanently banned.

What they were looking for: Accounts peddling content and products related to weight-loss scams, unwanted software or contained malware, and counterfeit goods.

Why it's hard: Google's AdSense platform enables just about anyone to distribute and monetize ads, so long as the advertisers meet their long-standing policies. But Google's scale, combined with ever-changing domain names and creative that's distributed by fake news sites and advertisers, can make it difficult for the company to react quickly to every instance.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Saudi Arabia and Qatar near deal to end standoff, sources say

Qatar's prime minister (R) attends the 2019 Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are close to a deal to end the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf following U.S.-mediated reconciliation talks this week, sources familiar with the talks tell me.

Why it matters: Restoring relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would bring a sense of stability back to the Gulf after a 3.5 year standoff. It could also notch a last-minute achievement for the Trump administration before Jan. 20.

House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana legalization advocate and co-sponsor of the bill. Photo: Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office.
  2. Health: Coronavirus death rates rising across the country — Study: Increased COVID-19 testing can reduce transmission — Hospitalizations top 100,000 for the first time.
  3. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  4. Vaccine: What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do — Obama, Bush and Clinton willing to take vaccine in public —WSJ: Pfizer expects to ship half as many COVID vaccines as planned in 2020.