Google Releases 2016 Bad Ads Report, Updates On Fake News

Google released its 2017 Bad Ads report Wednesday to give a recap of all the malicious, trick and scam ads the company blocked in the prior year. In January the company also added details about its quest to rid the Internet of fake news.

The company said it disabled 340 sites after reviewing 550 sites suspected of misrepresenting content to users, including impersonating news organizations. It all happened within the two-month period after implementing the AdSense misrepresentative content policy in November 2016.

Google defines "misrepresenting content" in a variety of ways. The list ranges from content that entices users to engage with content under false or unclear pretenses to impersonating Google products or falsely implying having an affiliation with -- or endorsement by -- another individual, organization, product, or service.

It has been a busy year. Overall, Google took down 1.7 billion ads that violated its advertising policies in 2016 -- up from 780 million in 2015. The report also highlights how Google automated processes to take down more than double the amount of ads from the prior year.  

"If you spent one second taking down each of those bad ads, it’d take you more than 50 years to finish," Scott Spencer, director of product management of sustainable ads, wrote in a post. "But our technology is built to work much faster."

The technology now spots and disables bad ads more rapidly. "Trick to click" ads often appear as system warnings to deceive users into clicking on them, not realizing they are often downloading harmful software or malware. In 2016, its systems detected and disabled a total of 112 million ads for "trick to click" -- six times more than in 2015.

Google also disabled more than 68 million bad ads for healthcare violations, up from 12.5 million in 2015, and took down more than 17 million bad ads for illegal gambling violations in 2016.

In 2016, Google took down nearly 80 million bad ads for deceiving, misleading and shocking users. The company technology also detected and disabled more than 23,000 self-clicking ads -- up from only a few thousand in 2015.

Last year, Google also took down nearly 7 million bad ads for intentionally attempting to trick its detection technology.

During the past year, Google expanded its policies to better protect users from misleading and predatory offers. In July, the company introduced a policy to ban ads for payday. Google disabled more than 5 million payday loan ads in the six months since launching the policy.

Sites and ads are suspended for a variety of policy violations. For example, Google took action on 47,000 sites for promoting content and products related to weight-loss scams, and on more than 15,000 sites for unwanted software and disabled 900,000 ads for containing malware.

Google also suspended 6,000 sites and 6,000 accounts for attempting to advertise counterfeit goods, such as imitation designer watches. 

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