Google’s political ad library to bring in transparency on online Lok Sabha poll campaigns

The move comes at a time when digital platforms have come under pressure to bring transparency into political ads, and are facing increased scrutiny in large markets that are headed for elections.

Published: 22nd January 2019 12:37 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd January 2019 07:41 AM   |  A+A-

Google

For representational purposes (File | AP)

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: A new initiative by Google could bring in more transparency in online election advertising ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The Internet major on Tuesday said it will introduce an India-specific advertising transparency report and a searchable political ads library. These will provide comprehensive information about who is purchasing election ads on Google platforms and how much money is being spent.

“The India political ads transparency report and ads library will go live in March 2019,” said a Google statement.

Under Google’s updated election ads policy for India, advertisers running election ads would have to provide a ‘pre-certificate’ issued by the Election Commission of India (ECI) or anyone authorised by the ECI, for each ad. 

Further, Google will verify the identity of advertisers before their election ads run on its platforms. The advertiser verification process will begin on February 14, 2019. Online election ads in India may run only if the advertiser is verified by Google. “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. In line with this, we are bringing more transparency to election advertising online, and surfacing relevant information to help people better navigate the electoral process,” said Chetan Krishnaswamy, Director-Public Policy, Google India.

Earlier in December 2018, Facebook had announced changes to the way it manages ads on Facebook and Instagram. “We’ve rolled out these changes in the US, Brazil, and the UK, and next, we’re taking our first steps towards bringing transparency to political ads in India,” blogged Facebook product manager Sarah Clark Schiff. 

The move from the tech giants comes after allegations by Indian political parties about foreign interference in the country’s elections. The issues began after a whistleblower stated that Cambridge Analytica used Facebook data to influence the US elections.

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