According to YouGov, seven in ten people considered the presidential elections of 2020, one of the most important of their life so far. With 69% of Americans attending to the polls believing that choosing the right candidate is crucial, Selena Gomez wanted to make sure that eligible voters could select their candidate without intimidation and any form of misinformation or conspiracy theories. The actress, singer, and businesswoman wrote an open letter to Google and its CEO, Sundar Pichai, asking them to stay alert and be proactive when it comes to removing ads that spread disinformation.
“Hi Sundar, Although we have never met, I just learned that Google is making millions of dollars putting ads on websites that spread disinformation about our election,” Gomez wrote. “I’m hoping you are also just finding this out too. Please shut this down immediately. The fate of our country depends on it. Thanks, Selena.”
Gomez continued her efforts to clean the internet and publicly congratulated Unicef after they announced that they removed from their website all the ads promoting disinformation. “Thank you, @Unicefusa, for doing this!” she wrote on Friday. “We need more organizations to do this too. @googleads needs to stop the spread of hate and misinformation.”
Unicef’s decision comes after the Twitter account Stop Funding Fake News asked them and other companies to remove ads that lead to fake news. “Hi @UNICEFUSA @mmlafleur @seanjohn @EastCarolina @ChristiesInc @kingstontech Please remove your ads from sites publishing misinformation about the election,” they wrote.
The Rare Beauty founder’s insistence paid off, and she finally got a response from the multinational technology company. “Thank you for reaching out about this, Selena,” the company replied. “We agree that there is no place for hate or election misinformation when our platforms are used to run ads and we appreciate anytime potential violations are flagged to us. We have long-standing policies to remove ads from articles inciting hate or violence or those that promote demonstrably false claims that could significantly undermine participation or trust in elections. When content violates our policies, we take action, including removing ads from the violating pages and in pervasive situations the sites. When advertisers want to go beyond our policies, we give them tools, like the ones UNICEF used, to ensure that they are in control over their ads running against content that is not suitable for their brand. We allow them to exclude specific websites (http://goo.gle/3pqPC5o) as well as entire topics (http://goo.gle/2Uwiz1j). And we aim to make this process as seamless as possible. See more here → http://goo.gle/2IzxdCL.”
1/5 Thanks for reaching out about this, Selena. We agree that there is no place for hate or election misinfo when our platforms are used to run ads and we appreciate anytime potential violations are flagged to us.— Google Ads (@GoogleAds) November 13, 2020
Science Mag reported that groups are focusing on creating disinformation to delegitimize the 2020 elections. “What we’re seeing right now are essentially seeds being planted, dozens of seeds each day, of false stories,” says Emerson Brooking, a resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. “They’re all being planted such that they could be cited and reactivated … after the election.”
According to Google ads, they are taking the necessary measures to fight back misleading articles and sites. “We reviewed these 5 pages and removed ads from those that violate our policies. These pages made roughly $70 over the past 90 days,” they said. “We appreciate anytime potential violations are flagged and will continue to review anything shared with us, alongside continuing our own proactive enforcement.”