Politics is a sensitive subject, where friends can become enemies. It's widely debated and always a hot topic to follow.
While Facebook said that it's going to keep allowing political ads on its platforms no matter what, saying that it's "free speech", Twitter takes the opposite ground. As mentioned by CEO Jack Dorsey, his company is banning political ads altogether.
Google on the other hand, is another giant of the web. And here it has its own opinion.
Instead of keeping a full throttle or abandoning political ads entirely, the search engine giant is taking the middle ground between the two social media companies.
In a blog post, the company explained it would accept political ads, but police them with false claims, and would let advertisers target ads only on very broad categories like gender, age, and postal code.
Google said that:
"To make this more explicit, we’re clarifying our ads policies and adding examples to show how our policies prohibit things like “deep fakes” (doctored and manipulated media), misleading claims about the census process, and ads or destinations making demonstrably false claims that could significantly undermine participation or trust in an electoral or democratic process."
"Of course, we recognize that robust political dialogue is an important part of democracy, and no one can sensibly adjudicate every political claim, counterclaim, and insinuation. So we expect that the number of political ads on which we take action will be very limited—but we will continue to do so for clear violations."
Google parent Alphabet gets 84% of its revenue by showing ads on websites and displaying search ads. But since YouTube is giving the company an increasing amount of revenue, political ads are just a small pie of Google's revenue.
Google has received at least $121.9 million for 167,901 political ads in the U.S. since May 31, 2018, according to the company's Transparency Report. That number is minuscule if compared to the $33.9 billion in ad revenue the company generated in the Q3 2019.
In other words, the company won't lose much, and instead will gain a more positive approval by playing it rather safely.
Google is also emphasizing that its policies always banned ads with false information, but warned the company might not be able to catch every political ad that is misleading.
"We recognize that robust political dialogue is an important part of democracy, and no one can sensibly adjudicate every political claim, counterclaim, and insinuation," Google said. "So we expect that the number of political ads on which we take action will be very limited — but we will continue to do so for clear violations."
This is a sharp contrast to Facebook, which has been used by political figures to target ads to very specific voters and followers, sometimes by using data and other sensitive information that were gathered against Facebook's own policies.
The move comes as regulators express increasing concern about the power of big technology companies and their inability to police their properties.