Google is planning to introduce controls on political advertisement funding and set up tools to check the spread of fake news ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday. The company will list out regulations, making it mandatory to include disclosures about who paid for the advertisements.
Google India’s Director of Trust and Safety Sunita Mohanty said the company has put in place a global framework in line with a weekly transparency report it carried during the recently concluded midterm elections in the United States.
“We are planning something,” Mohanty said when asked how the tech giant was preparing for the Lok Sabha elections. “What we did with the recent US elections is that we built a very tight control on who is spending on election advertisement and how are we controlling information on elections.”
The transparency report published during the US midterm elections included information about advertisements related to elections or electoral issues featuring a federal candidate. It also showed how much money verified advertisers spent to run advertisements on Google Ads Services.
The report listed advertisers who spent more than $500 (around Rs 36,000) on political advertisements in the US election cycle from May 31. “In the US, we ran weekly reports showing all the advertisements that ran on Google platform, who paid for them, which party did it cover,” said Mohanty. “We plan that for India. There’s still time for India’s general elections, but we are gearing up for it and we have put in place a global framework for it.”
She clarified that while the search engine personalises advertisements according to a user’s personal interests, it does not use political affiliations, sexual orientations or medical conditions to show customised ads.
The spread of fake news and information on social media ahead of the general elections has become a cause of concern for the government and its agencies. Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey on Monday said the microblogging site was thinking about using artificial intelligence to curb fake news. “The real problem is not misinformation per se as jokes can also be categorised as misinformation,” he said. “But misinformation that is spread with the intent to mislead people is a real problem.”
Last month, the Centre asked messaging service WhatsApp to share with law enforcement agencies the location and identity of those misusing the service to spread fake news and trigger violence.