Google vetoes electoral boost in 2024

Google vetoes electoral boost in 2024
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The decision is a response to the resolution that established new rules for the sport and is valid from May 1st; The greatest impact will be among little-known candidates

Google will veto the promotion of political content in the 2024 municipal elections. The decision comes into force on May 1st and means that no candidate content can be promoted on Google Ads, which allows advertising on the search engine or in group companies, such as YouTube. The information will be released on Wednesday (April 24, 2024), at 9am.

The rules for this year’s elections were the reason for the decision. There was no technical capacity to adapt to the provisions of article 27-A of resolution 23,732, of February 27, 2024. The requirement is as follows in the case of boosted content:

  • I – maintain a repository of these advertisements to monitor, in real time, the content, values, those responsible for payment and the characteristics of the population groups that make up the audience (profile) of the contracted advertising;
  • II – provide an accessible and easy-to-use query tool that allows you to perform an advanced search on the repository’s data.

Google (or any other big tech) would have to set up this panel for a huge list of ads. There is technology for that. But it’s expensive. There would also be a risk of the system failing and the TSE determining punishment. When in doubt, Google chose to take down this monetization vertical during the electoral process.

The requirement to be accountable in this way already existed. The difference is that now the TSE has expanded the scope of what must be monitored. There could be some nuance and Google could be accused of negligence. Here is how broad the spectrum of what should be monitored in the event of a boost is:

  • “For the purposes of this article, it characterizes political-electoral content, regardless of the classification made by the platform, that which deals with elections, political parties, federations and coalitions, elected positions, people holding elected positions, candidates, government proposals, projects of law, exercise of the right to vote and other political rights or matters related to the electoral process”.

Government advertising will not be blocked. Reading the big tech is that the TSE’s resolution is limited to elections by the Court’s scope. This way, all boosted content that is not directly linked to elections will continue to run normally.

According to the Power360, since the TSE published the resolution, on March 1st, there have been a series of internal meetings at Google to adapt to the new rules. The conclusion was that it would not be possible and, therefore, the option was not to sell boost.

All the collaboration that already exists with the TSE, such as identifying content with false information and bringing to light authors of possible publications that go against any law, continues.

Here’s what Google says:

Elections are important to Google, and over the past few years we’ve worked tirelessly to launch new products and services to support candidates and voters. For this year’s Brazilian elections, we will update our Google Ads political content policy to no longer allow political ads to run in the country. This update will take place in May in light of the entry into force of election resolutions for 2024. We are globally committed to supporting the integrity of elections and will continue to engage with authorities regarding this matter”.

Historic

Until 2017, the promotion of political-electoral content in the country was not allowed. With the mini-electoral reform (law 13,488 of 2017) that year, it became.

By law, among the forms of content boosting, paid prioritization of content on internet search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, was also included. Content promotion must be contracted directly with the internet application provider with headquarters and jurisdiction in the country.

In November 2021, Google started to have a repository of boosts. Since then, more than 58,000 advertisements for the modality have been contracted with the company.

Why does this matter

Because it is one of the largest companies in the world telling the TSE that it does not have the capacity to deal with the Court’s demands.

By wearing the mantle of savior of democracy, the Court determined tough rules to try to prevent what it considers threats. Google demonstrates that it prefers not to make money from this boost rather than taking intangible risks. The decision is not unprecedented. Similar ones were taken by the company in Canada and in the State of Washington, in the USA. They took the team off the field.

There will be discomfort among the political class, which uses these platforms as a way to seek out voters online. If other big techs follow suit, sentiment could escalate.

Who will be most harmed? The most modest candidate for mayor or councilor in a city, who is never interviewed on TV, radio or newspapers. He could save some money and try to campaign by boosting his ads on the internet. Not anymore.


The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Google vetoes electoral boost

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