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Photo: Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images

Google informed its advertising partners on Wednesday that beginning Dec. 10, it will lift the post-election political ad ban that went into effect after polls closed on Nov. 3, according to an email obtained by Axios.

The big picture: The lift comes about a month ahead of two crucial Georgia runoff races that will determine control of the Senate.

  • Millions of dollars have been pouring into the Senate runoffs, but most of that money thus far has been channeled into local broadcast ads due to Google and Facebook's extended political ad bans.

Details: Beginning Thursday, Google says it will be lifting its "sensitive event" policy, which it put in place to help prevent misinformation spread via ads that concern sensitive events like elections or public health crises.

  • Once the sensitive event policy is lifted, its systems will again start enabling ads to be purchased across all of its ad-serving platforms (Google Ads, DV360, YouTube, and AdX Authorized Buyer) that fall under the scope of its election ads policy.
  • Google's political ad policies are different from the policies used to enforce rules around most commercial ads in that some audience targeting options are restricted.

Google considers the following ad criteria as "election-related":

  • Mentions current state or federal officeholder, a candidate, political party, or ballot measure
  • Mentions federal or state elections within the ad
  • Based on election-related search queries, including on candidates or officeholders.

Flashback: When the ban was first announced in October, advertisers were told that they should expect the ban to last for at least seven days after Election Day, and that Google would review the situation on a weekly basis if it extends longer.

What's next: While Google says it no longer considers the post-election period to be a sensitive event, it will still "rigorously enforce" its ads policies, "which strictly prohibit demonstrably false information that could significantly undermine trust in elections or the democratic process, among other forms of abuse."

Go deeper ... Scoop: Google to block election ads after Election Day

Go deeper

Jan 28, 2021 - Technology

Big Tech at war over privacy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The world's biggest tech firms are at each other's throats over how to manage data privacy, an issue that will shape the internet economy for years to come.

Why it matters: Absent any U.S. government intervention, tech companies are introducing rules that favor their own ideals and business models, sometimes at their peers' expense.

Jan 27, 2021 - Technology

Facebook to downplay politics on its platform

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday said the company will dial back on pushing political groups and content to users.

Why it matters: Facebook is hoping to dim intense political pressure from conservatives and liberals by backing away from arguments it’s long made that political speech is vital to free expression.

Updated 5 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.