Google considering political ad policy changes: Report

Google parent Alphabet is mulling changes to its policy on political advertisements, days after fellow tech giants Twitter and Facebook unveiled opposing stances on the issue ahead of the 2020 election cycle.

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Google executives have held internal meetings this week about potential changes to the company’s approach to political ads, sources familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal. It’s unclear what changes could be implemented, but some employees suggested any tweaks would be related to audience targeting in political ads.

ELIZABETH WARREN, TWITTER CEO JACK DORSEY SPAR OVER POLITICAL AD BAN

A Google spokesperson told the Journal that any changes to the policy would apply to all platforms, including its namesake search engine and YouTube.

Google representatives declined further comment on the situation.

U.S. tech giants have faced mounting pressure to crack down on misinformation on their platforms ahead of the 2020 election cycle. At present, Google accepts political advertisements.

Spending on local political advertisements is expected to reach $6.58 billion in 2020, according to projections by BIA Advisory Services. It is projected the most money -- 47 percent -- will be spent on broadcast TV but digital with 22 percent is second.

Google, Twitter and Facebook drew scrutiny last month after all three firms declined to remove a Trump campaign advertisement that contained unsubstantiated claims Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s dealings in Ukraine.

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said in October that the platform would no longer accept advertisements on behalf of political candidates or issues. The company is expected unveil a formal update to its political ad policy later this month.

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Facebook has faced widespread criticism over its policy to accept political advertisements without submitting them to a fact-checking process – a stance critics say could allow the spread of false or misleading information. A group of more than 250 Facebook employees expressed opposition to the policy in a letter to management obtained by the New York Times last month.

“Facebook’s culture is built on openness, so we appreciate our employees voicing their thoughts on this important topic,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “We remain committed to not censoring political speech, and will continue exploring additional steps we can take to bring increased transparency to political ads.”

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