Google will lift its ban on election ads this Thursday

Such ads have been prohibited since November 3rd.

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Kris Holt
December 9th, 2020
Seattle, USA - Oct 15, 2019: The entrance sign to the new Google building in the south lake union area at sunset.
400tmax via Getty Images

Google will end its ban on election-related ads on Thursday, it confirmed to Engadget. The company has prohibited such ads since November 3rd, when US presidential election polls closed. Axios first reported on Google lifting its suspension of ads that reference the 2020 election.

“Tomorrow, on Thursday, December 10th, we will lift our sensitive event policy, once again enabling ads currently in-scope of our election ads policy (mentioning a current state or federal officeholder or candidate, political party, or ballot measure), ads that reference federal or state elections within the ad, and any ads running on election-related search queries, including on candidates or officeholders,” Google wrote in an email to advertisers.

The company enacted the policy to stem the spread of post-election misinformation. It said it’d reassess the situation each week in the aftermath of the election.

Google no longer believes the election to be a sensitive event, but it will continue to rigidly enforce its ad rules. Those “strictly prohibit demonstrably false information that could significantly undermine trust in elections or the democratic process, among other forms of abuse," the company noted in its email.

The timing of the move is intriguing. Some parties continue to dispute President-elect Joe Biden’s claim to the White House. Google-owned YouTube said on Wednesday it will remove videos alleging that “widespread fraud or errors” affected the results of the election.

Critical runoff elections for Georgia’s two senate seats will take place in early January. Those will determine whether Democrats or Republicans have control of the Senate. If misinformation regarding the candidates starts flooding Google’s ads, that could have a bearing on the outcome. 

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