No more fake COVID-19 ads; Google to prohibit dangerous ads

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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In a change that is expected to happen next month, Google has decided to prohibit websites and apps that use its advertising technology from running ads on “dangerous content” which, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic runs against scientific consensus.

As the health crisis continues to escalate across the world, the world’s largest search engine has revised its policy while digital media companies such as Facebook have been facing calls to do more to reign in misinformation.

In a statement, Google clarifies that the content not permitted to make money from advertising comprises debunked conspiracy theories, such as the notion that the novel coronavirus was developed as a bioweapon in a Chinese lab, that it was created by Microsoft Corp creator Bill Gates, or that the virus is a hoax. There are also claims doing the rounds on the internet that “the COVID-19 vaccine is an attempt to genetically modify the population.”

Google also made it clear that in case of websites that cross a certain threshold of materials that violate these policies, the entire site will be banned from using its ad platform.

Google also bans advertisements that have negative content such as “miracle” health remedies, or that encourage movement against vaccination or ask people to forgo treatment. It also prevents advertising from running on publisher content which encourages such topics.

The new Google policy would also prohibit advertisers from making their own advertisements that spread conspiracy theories about coronavirus.

Google will begin implementing the change on Aug. 18 and can delete advertising from individual articles or, in certain cases, entire sites. When it comes to removing ads from a whole site, the company said it has a percentage threshold for most of its policies before demonetizing a website completely.

In 2019, Google received nearly $135 billion in advertising revenues, in part through programs such as AdSense and Ad Manager, where approved websites can run programmatic advertising on their sites and make money using Google.