Google and its subsidiary YouTube has removed hundreds of Trump campaign ads, a CBS News investigation found

A boom in attention-grabbing digital advertising by political parties has sparked debate among politicians, regulators, and platforms about how to balance freedom of speech with a responsibility to prevent manipulation, such as through viral deception and inappropriate micro-targeting.

In recent months, some of the world’s largest online companies have been pressured into taking a stand against manipulative political advertising, which can spread very quickly on social networks, boosted by algorithms prioritising controversial and ‘engaging’ content. The issue is considered pressing, given the risk of the upcoming 2020 US presidential election being manipulated (including by state actors) 

According to a report from CBS News, Google and its subsidiary YouTube have so far removed at least 300 video adverts placed by the Trump campaign, mainly during the summer of 2018. Although the ads were removed for violating terms of service, Google’s Political Advertising Transparency Report did not include explanations for their removal. The ads typically ran for several days before being removed from Google’s platforms. The findings were reported on CBS News’ 60 Minutes.

Despite the removal and rejection of hundreds of ads run by the Trump campaign, YouTube remains under scrutiny for its decision to allow a controversial campaign video which includes misleading claims about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

YouTube remains under fire, having allowed a controversial campaign video to remain on the platform which includes misleading claims about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The “Biden Corruption” ad – which CNN has refused to air – claims that Biden promised $1bn to Ukraine in exchange for the firing of the prosecutor investigating Biden’s son’s business interests. The Trump campaign has reportedly defended the advert as “factually accurate”. Speaking in an interview on 60 Minutes, YouTube President Susan Wojcicki stated that the ad, while inaccurate, does not violate YouTube’s policies.

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