Last month, Google announced that it would no longer allow political advertisers to target voters on political affiliation and would only permit political groups to target ads based on “general categories”: age, gender, and general location.
Speaking to Fox News on Saturday, US President campaign manager Brad Parscale described Google’s new political ads-related policy as “a removal of free speech and a voter suppression activity”.
He linked the issue to Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 US presidential elections.
“2016 freaked them out because I used a whole bunch of liberal platforms to do it. I guarantee you, this decision came from another room full of people going, ‘Oh my God, we’ve got to stop them. They’re going to win again in a landslide and we can’t be part of it’,” he argued.
As an example to illustrate Google’s stance on political ads, Parscale referred to the US conglomerate AT&T, the world’s largest telecommunications company.
“It would almost be like [if] AT&T had all the lists of all the Trump supporters in America, and AT&T said, ‘Oh, you can’t dial their phones’. I mean, it’s crazy,” he said.
“I think it hurts America,” Parscale added when asked which party he thinks will be hurt the most by Google’s new ads policy.
“These are new tech ways of stopping connections. If I went on TV right now and said, ‘The telephone companies aren’t allowing me to call people,’ all heck would break loose. Right? It’s exactly what they did. They just did it with a different connection,” he pointed out.
Google Unveils New Ads Policy
Parcale’s remarks come after Google announced in late November that it will bar political advertisers from targeting voters based on affiliation as a means of promoting increased visibility in election ads.
The tech giant pledged to limit targeting to such categories as age, gender and general location, although advertisers would still be able to do contextual targeting and send ads to people who view stories related, in particular, to economic issues.
Google underscored that the new policy aims to prohibit deep fakes and misleading information that “undermines participation or trust in electoral or democratic process”. The company said that it wants “the ads we serve to be transparent and widely available so that many voices can debate issues openly”.
The decision followed Twitter’s move to ban political ads on its platform, starting 22 November. Facebook, in turn, announced that it will allow politicians to sidestep its ban on ads containing “deceptive false or misleading content”.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the policy by claiming that “ads are an important part of the voice” especially for those candidates and advocacy groups that do not appear in mainstream media.