The three major Democratic committees blasted Google on Friday for an ad policy that will allow politicians to run false ads across its platforms, including YouTube, in the run-up to the 2020 election. The Democrats also took aim at Twitter, without actually naming it, for banning all ads from politicians.
Google announced Wednesday an update to its political ad policy that would limit how ads could be targeted at voters, but would still allow politicians to run false ads.
A joint-statement provided to CNN Friday from the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said, “we stand in full support of tech platforms removing demonstrably false content and instituting better transparency standards. That approach combats the spread of disinformation without harming civic engagement or limiting the ability of campaigns to connect directly with voters.”
The Democrats took issue with Google’s decision to limit how ads can be targeted, saying, “Tech companies should not reduce the power of the grassroots just because it is easier than addressing abuse on their platforms.”
Tech platforms have come under scrutiny for how they handle political ads since September when Facebook reaffirmed its commitment to allow politicians to run false ads. The DNC has previously taken issue with that policy, saying Facebook was allowing President Donald Trump “to mislead the American people on their platform unimpeded.”
Twitter made the decision last month to stop allowing politicians to run ads entirely, a determination the Democratic committees also took issue with in their statement. They wrote: “a blanket ban on all political advertising is a cop-out that fails to combat disinformation and harms voters’ ability to participate in our democracy, affecting voters of color in particular.”
On Wednesday, Google said it bans false ads but only those related to voter suppression and election integrity, not claims targeting candidates.
“It’s against our policies for any advertiser to make a false claim — whether it’s a claim about the price of a chair or a claim that you can vote by text message, that election day is postponed, or that a candidate has died,” Scott Spencer, a Google vice president, wrote in a blog post.
Even so, President Trump’s reelection campaign ran an ad in October on Google-owned platform YouTube that falsely accused former Vice President Joe Biden of corruption for his role in Ukraine policy during the Obama administration.
A Google spokesperson confirmed to CNN on Wednesday that the ad would still be allowed to run on Google’s platforms.
“We call on these tech companies, including Google, to reconsider their decision to bluntly limit political advertising on their platforms, and we invite them to engage in an open and transparent conversation about how we effectively regulate political advertising online. We view this as critical to combating the spread of disinformation in paid communications, and vital to our ability to empower voters with true and accurate information,” the joint statement from Seema Nanda, DNC CEO, Scott Fairchild, DSCC executive director, and Lucinda Guinn, the executive director of DCCC, said.