While debate rages over the impact of digital platforms in facilitating political movements, Google has begun letting advertisers know that it’s lifting its ban on political ads in the US, which it implemented last month in the wake of the Capitol siege.
As reported by Axios, Google has begun informing its advertising partners that its platforms will resume accepting all political ads starting Wednesday. Both Google and Facebook put a pause on all political ads following the violent actions on Inauguration Day, which left several people dead. Facebook has not yet announced when its ban will be lifted.
As noted, there’s still much discussion about the impact of digital platforms on political discourse, and subsequent action, with the major players – most specifically Google and Facebook – coming under significant pressure to re-evaluate their processes, and do more to address the misuse of their platform by political activist groups.
In India, Twitter recently came under fire from local authorities after it refused to fully comply with a request to remove more than 1,000 accounts which the Government alleges have been spreading misinformation about farmers protesting against new agricultural reforms. Twitter has withheld a portion of the noted accounts, but has refused to take further action on legal grounds, putting it at odds with regional lawmakers.
The ad bans implemented by both Facebook and Google relate to US politics, but as you can see, the use and abuse of these platforms for political means is rising, as are concerns from various groups related to such incidents.
It’s worth noting, too, that the Australian Government recently announced that it will not use Facebook ads in its upcoming election campaign, in retaliation over Facebook’s decision to ban local news content. Which, if anything, will only reduce the reach of their messaging, but it’s another front on which Facebook is, willfully or not, pitting itself political officials.
Google’s decision to reinstate political ads is not overly controversial, nor unexpected. But it will likely remain a point of contention, particularly as more governments look to assess the influence of digital platforms on local politics.
What is clear is that these platforms are now hugely influential, and any political body not aware of such is likely failing to maximize their campaigns. That will increase the impetus for local regulators to establish clearer rules around their use for such moving forward, which could eventually see new regulations imposed.