Google Bans Ads Linking to Hacked Political Content

Google has taken extreme steps to prevent major interference in the 2020 US Presidential election, by blocking ads that contain hacked political content.

The move appears designed to prevent a re-run of the lead-up to the last election, when damaging materials were leaked online by Russian hackers and then published and republished by third-party sites to help scupper Democrat hopes.

Twitter has since 2018 banned the spread of all hacked content on its platform including anything political-related.

The Google Ads Hacked political materials policy will officially be launched on September 1, 2020 and applies first to ads covered by the tech giant’s US election ads policy.

It said the rules apply to the following:

“Ads that directly facilitate or advertise access to hacked material related to political entities within scope of Google's elections ads policies. This applies to all protected material that was obtained through the unauthorized intrusion or access of a computer, computer network, or personal electronic device, even if distributed by a third party.”

However, Google will allow “discussion of or commentary on” any hacked content as long as the ad or landing page doesn’t allow direct access to it.

Any entity violating the policy will be notified seven days before their account is suspended.

Google also announced a policy to ban advertisers that try to conceal their identities whilst promoting social, political and other issues.

This follows an announcement last November that it was restricting political advertising to ban deepfake content and “ads or destinations making demonstrably false claims that could significantly undermine participation or trust in an electoral or democratic process.”

It has also limited targeted advertising to “age, gender, and general location.”

However, reports suggest that even with these new steps, US tech giants are fighting a losing battle against misinformation ahead of the election, which could be the most divisive and hotly contested in living memory.

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