22 January 2019
New Delhi: As India gears up for the Lok Sabha elections, Google on Tuesday announced an updated election ads that will provide comprehensive information about who is purchasing these on Google platforms and how much money is being spent.
The updated election ads policy will require advertisers to provide a "pre-certificate" issued by the Election Commision of India (ECI) or anyone authorised by the ECI, for each ad they wish to run.
Google said it will verify the identity of advertisers before their election ads run on its platforms.
The advertiser verification process will begin on February 14 and begin enforcing the policy from February 20.
The company would also introduce an India-specific "Political Advertising Transparency" report and searchable "Political Ads Library" in March.
"The ads that will be covered in the Political Advertising Transparency Report and Ads Library are ads for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 that feature a political party, political candidate or current member of the Lok Sabha, or any ads that are run by a political party, political candidate or current member of the Lok Sabha," Chetan Krishnaswamy, Director-Public Policy, Google India, told IANS.
In 2019, over 850 million Indians are expected to cast their vote to elect the country's next government.
"We're thinking hard about elections and how we continue to support democratic processes in India and around the world," Krishnaswamy said in a seperate statement.
For the elections, Google will make electoral information from the ECI and other authoritative sources easily discoverable on Search.
"We are bringing more transparency to election advertising online, and surfacing relevant information to help people better navigate the electoral process," Krishnaswamy added.
Google became the second tech giant after Facebook in December announced fresh steps to increase ad transparency and defend against foreign interference ahead of the 2019 polls.
Now anyone who wants to run an ad in India related to politics will need to first confirm their identity and location, and give more details about who placed the ad, the social networking giant said.
Facebook would also start to show a disclaimer on all political ads that provides more information about who's placing the ad, and an online searchable Ad Library for anyone to access.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in November said it is taking "multi-variable" steps, including the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, to curb the spread of misleading information on its platform ahead of general election.