In a blog post published yesterday on Google’s corporate blog, the company’s Senior Vice President Kent Walker announced new policies meant to support election integrity.
“Our work on elections goes far beyond improving policies for advertising. We’re investing heavily in keeping our own platforms secure and working with campaigns, elections officials, journalists, and others to help ensure the security of the online platforms that they depend on.”
Anyone who wants to purchase an election ad on Google in the U.S. will from now on be required to prove they are a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident.
Advertisers will have to provide a government-issued ID or similar documents. Apart from that, Walker announced, Google will release a new Transparency Report this summer. The report will focus on election ads exclusively.
The company is also building a public library for election ads – this will allow anyone to find election ads and see who paid for them.
According to Axios, this comes as no surprise. Google and other tech companies are in a race to counter potential foreign election meddling in the 2018 midterms. However, the new policy will cover ads that relate to candidates and not ads that related to specific political issues.
This could turn out to be a problem, Axios noted, since Russian operatives trying to interfere in the 2016 election bought different sorts of ad campaigns, many of them focused on politically contentious issues.
Google has branched outside the technology industry in order to protect election integrity. The company has partnered with the National Cyber Security Alliance and Digital Democracy Project, and they are currently funding programs for campaign members, staff members, and elected officials.
Google also supports the “Disinfo Lab” at the Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center. The company will, according to the Washington Post, spend $300 million over the next three years to back the “Disinfo Lab,” in an effort to help combat the spread of misinformation and fake news online.
This was done in response to scrutiny Google had come under over its role in the spread of fake news and misinformation during the U.S. Presidential Election.
Apart from Google, Facebook and Twitter both have been involved in similar scandals. Cambridge Analytica, a consulting company that worked with Donald Trump’s election team harvested data from 87 million US citizens’ Facebook profiles, according to The Guardian. This data was later used to profile and influence American voters.
As the Inquisitr reported, Twitter sold data to a Cambridge Analytica-affiliated researcher. Cambridge Analytica was banned from buying data and running ads on Twitter.