Google banned nearly 100 million harmful Covid ads in 2020

According to new figures, Google blocked or removed nearly 100 million ads related to the Covid-19 pandemic last year.

The company’s ad security report found these accounted for a significant proportion of the total of 3.1 billion ads it banned for violating its policies in 2020.

Among the Covid-19 ads blocked were many making misleading claims about counterfeit vaccine doses and miracle drugs.

Others benefited from popular products such as face masks in case of delivery bottlenecks.

Google said the numbers are the result of increased investment in its automated detection technology and a major overhaul of its advertising policies.

Around 1.7 million advertising accounts were also blocked in the reporting period.

Scott Spencer, vice president of advertising, privacy and security for the company said, “As the number of Covid-19 cases increased worldwide last January, we enforced our Sensitive Event Policy to encourage behaviors such as discounting on in-demand products such as hand sanitizer, masks and stationery, or ads promoting bogus remedies.

“As we learned about the new virus and health organization guidelines, we refined our enforcement strategy to allow medical providers, health organizations, local governments and trusted companies to display critical updates and authoritative content while preventing opportunistic abuse.

“As claims and conspiracies about the origin and spread of the coronavirus began to circulate online, we introduced a new policy to ban both ads and monetized content about Covid-19 or other global health emergencies that contradict the scientific consensus.”

He added that Google plans to continue adopting policies and technologies in the future.

Spencer said, “We know that decisions made with user safety in mind benefit the wider ecosystem.

“Maintaining the trust of advertisers and publishers helps their companies to be successful in the long term. Over the coming year, we will continue to invest in policies, our team of experts, and enforcement technology to stay one step ahead of potential threats.

“We continue to seek to scale our verification programs globally to increase transparency and make more information about the ad experience more widely available.”

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