May 4 (UPI) — Google announced a policy change Friday that says advertisers must now prove they are U.S. citizens or lawful residents in order to buy political ads.
In a statement, Google said it will require additional verification for whoever wants to purchase an ad, like a government-issued ID and other key information.
Google will also require that the ads incorporate a clear disclosure of who is paying for it.
Over the summer, the tech giant will release a “transparency report” detailing who is buying election-related ads and how much money is being spent on them.
A searchable library of election ads will allow users to conveniently find which were purchased on Google and who paid for them.
Google said it’s also working across various industries to help strengthen protections around elections.
“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.
“We are also supporting the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein’s Center, ‘Disinfo Lab,’ which will employ journalists to leverage computational tools to monitor misinformation in the run-up to and during elections.”
Google’s new verifications, however, will be focused on ads about candidates and not on political and social messages.
The move comes after Russians used social media platforms to buy ads and spread content to influence the 2016 presidential election — a move intelligence officials said could put future U.S. elections at risk.
“There should be no doubt that Russia perceived its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in February.
“Frankly, the United States is under attack.”
In recent months, Facebook and Twitter have also unveiled new updates to verify and increase the transparency of political ads on their websites.