By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

GOOGLE said it is ready to protect its platforms from abuse by political ads in the Philippines, especially in the 2022 presidential elections.

“All of our policies will be applied,” Google’s Vice-President for Ads Privacy & Safety Scott Spencer said at a virtual briefing on Tuesday when asked how Google is preparing for the elections in the Philippines in 2022.

In a statement, he said ads help voters access authoritative information about politicians and voting processes.

“Over the past few years, we introduced strict policies and restrictions around who can run election-related advertising on our platforms and the ways they can target ads,” he added.

Google has launched political ad libraries in the United States, Europe, India, Israel, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand.

Mr. Spencer said Google works with its global enforcement teams to protect its platforms from abuse.

“Globally, we continue to expand our verification program and verified more than 5,400 additional election advertisers in 2020. In the US, as it became clear the outcome of the presidential election would not be determined immediately, we determined that the US election fell under our sensitive events policy, and enforced a US political ads pause starting after the polls closed and continuing through early December,” he explained.

“During that time, we temporarily paused more than five million ads and blocked ads on over three billion search queries referencing the election, the candidates or its outcome.”

He said the decision was for Google to limit the potential for ads to “amplify confusion” among voters after the election period.

“Policies on ads are important to keep internet users ‘safe’ and to ‘preserve trust’ in the ads ecosystem, he said.

In its Ads Safety Report 2020, Google said it restricted 6.1 billion ads last year.

“There are certain categories of ads that are legally or culturally sensitive and are only allowed on a limited basis,” the report said, referring to adult content, alcohol, gambling and games, and health care and medicines, among others.

“In total, we blocked over 99 million COVID-related ads from serving throughout the year, including those for miracle cures, N95 masks due to supply shortages, and most recently, fake vaccine doses,” Mr. Spencer said.

“We continue to be nimble, tracking bad actors’ behavior and learning from it. In doing so, we’re able to better prepare for future scams and claims that may arise,” he added.

Google, he noted, continues to invest in an automated detection technology that can scan the web for publisher policy compliance.

“Due to this investment, along with several new policies, we vastly increased our enforcement and removed ads from 1.3 billion publisher pages in 2020, up from 21 million in 2019. We also stopped ads from serving on over 1.6 million publisher sites with pervasive or egregious violations,” Mr. Spencer said.