Social media and other tech companies are finally considering their approach to political ads and political content. In the past, Twitter and TikTok stated that they won't host political ads, while Facebook defended the move in front of the US Congress.
The newest entrant to this club is Google. The company, it seems, has finally put restraints on political ads targeting voters based on age, gender, and location. Advertisers will not get any access to users' political leanings or their public voting records.
"Given recent concerns and debates about political advertising, and the importance of shared trust in the democratic process, we want to improve voters' confidence in the political ads they may see on our ad platforms," Scott Spencer, VP, Product Management, Google Ads stated on the Google Blog on Wednesday.
The strategy will be tried out in the impending UK elections, the upcoming EU elections and in all other countries by January 6, 2020.
While all tech companies are taking steps to stay away from politics, Facebook seems to be the odd one out. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended political ads in front of the US Congress. However, even its subsidiary WhatsApp has not left things as they were.
ZDNet reported on Thursday that WhatsApp banned nearly half a million accounts spreading misinformation in the Brazilian elections. Whether it impacted voting in any way is not yet known, but a massive crackdown on automated and bulk messaging was done. The interesting thing is that it was criticised by the winning party when it took the step.
The US Presidential Election 2020 will be the testbed for political content on social media platforms and its effects on voting patterns. Google, Twitter and Facebook have all been accused of influencing the 2016 elections and held responsible for bringing President Donald Trump to power.
The effect of all such policies will only be known post this election. One thing is certain, whether tech companies abstain or get involved in political content, their effect on any election globally cannot be denied.