Google will suspend political ads along with any reference to "impeachment, inauguration or protests at the U.S. Capitol" beginning Thursday.
The ban runs through the day after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
“It makes sense that it has to be an all or nothing ban on the category,” said Jonathan Kagan, vice president of search at ad agency Cogniscient Media. “Ironically, had section 230 been repealed, this wouldn’t have happened.”
Kagan said that Section 230 relieves the accountability of the platforms for whatever their users write or communicate. Repealing it would make most social media or advertising platforms complicit in facilitating false information.
“We regularly pause ads over unpredictable, 'sensitive' events when ads can be used to exploit the event or amplify misleading information,” Google said in a statement. “Beyond this, we have long-standing policies blocking content that incites violence or promotes hate and we will be extremely vigilant about enforcing on any ads that cross this line.”
In the letter to advertisers, Google said the policy will apply to ads running across Google Ads, DV360, YouTube, and AdX Authorized Buyer. Restrictions apply to any ad referencing candidates, election, its outcome, Biden’s inauguration, President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial, violence at the U.S. Capitol, or future planned protests.
The letter also reminds advertisers of Google’s longstanding Dangerous and Derogatory Content policy, which prohibits any ads that promote hate or incite violence.
“Given the events of the past week, we are extremely vigilant about enforcing on any ads that might reasonably be construed as crossing this line,” the letter states. “As with our prior political ad pause, we will carefully examine a number of factors before deciding to lift this policy for advertisers and share updates as we have them.”
This tactic is not new for Google. The company also implemented a temporary pause, first reported by Axios, on election-related advertising following the election. The company lifted the pause about a month later in December to prevent potential exploitation or misinformation via advertising.