Google Creates Political Ad-Buying Guidelines, Searchable Database Of Advertisers, Spend

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The company will let users see what organization is behind the ad, what their political affiliations are, how many impressions the ad received and even how much money is being spent on it. The report will list the buyers of election-related ads on Google platforms.

"As we learn from these changes and our continued engagement with leaders and experts in the field", Google says, "we'll work to improve transparency of political issue ads and expand our coverage to a wider range of elections".

To kick things off, Google will be verifying the identity of election advertisement buyers, including confirming they're either a lawful permanent resident or a USA citizen.

Google also says they will build a "searchable library" for election ads, where anybody will be able to browse election ads purchased through Google and easily discover who paid for them.

"We've partnered with the National Cyber Security Alliance and Digital Democracy Project at the Belfer Center at Harvard Kennedy School to fund security training programs for elected officials, campaigns, and staff members", Kent Walker, Google senior vice president of public policy, said. Facebook has also introduced transparency tools for its political ads.

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Google's blog post comes short of declaring support for the Honest Ads Act, a bill that would impose disclosure requirements on online ads, similar to what's required for television and other media.

Walker also said that Google will release a new election-ad-focused Transparency Report this summer. The issue ads are those that address a hotly debated political topic, not just those ads tied to a candidate.

The search and advertising giant's move come as major technology platforms take steps to curb the potential for foreign governments meddling in elections through their platforms.

"Our work on elections goes far beyond improving policies for advertising", boasts Walker.

We are also working across the industry and beyond to strengthen protections around elections.