Ahead of assembly elections in five states and Lok Sabha polls next year, Google Thursday said it is working on measures to bring “greater transparency” in political advertising on its platforms. The move comes amidst growing scrutiny tech companies are facing globally on issues ranging from concerns about market dominance and their online platforms being used to peddle fake or incorrect news. The US is considering a law requiring companies like Facebook and Google to disclose information about sponsors of political ads on their sites, including how much they’re spending and what audiences the ads are focusing on.
“We are in the early stages of finalising measures that will bring greater transparency to political advertising on our platforms,” a Google spokesperson told PTI. The spokesperson said as the measures are still in the works, the company will share more details on the political ads policy for India once finalised.
The spokesperson emphasised that the company will support Election Commission of India in its efforts on integrity of polls. Representatives from Google as well as other social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have met officials from the Election Commission to discuss the role they can play in the run-up to elections.
While the spokesperson did not give details of discussions with the Election Commission, it along with Facebook and Twitter have reportedly agreed to keep an eye on political advertisements and publicity material on their platforms and block fake news and defamatory and objectionable content during the forthcoming assembly and 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Five states Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Mizoram and Telangana are going to polls this year, while the Lok Sabha elections will be held next year. They have reportedly agreed to observe a 48-hour ‘silence period’ before polling during which they would ensure that no political advertisements go online. Emails sent to Facebook and Twitter did not elicit a response. In the US, Facebook, Google, and other online sites were used by Russians in 2015 and 2016 to influence Americans on hot-button social and political issues.