- The Washington Times - Monday, February 22, 2021

Google said it is lifting its ban on political advertising this week, after implementing the pause in response to the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. 

Google told advertisers last month that its ad pause would last until at least Jan. 21 but kept it in place for more than a month afterward.

“Starting on Wednesday, we will be lifting our Sensitive Events policy to again allow advertisers to run political ads,” a Google representative said in a statement. “We will continue to rigorously enforce our ads policies, which strictly prohibit demonstrably false information that could significantly undermine trust in elections or the democratic process.”

Google previously has implemented pauses on political advertising, including around the November 2020 election. The ad pause ahead of the election affected more than 5 million ads, according to a post on Google’s blog from Amanda Storey, Google Trust & Safety director.

Facebook’s ban on ads about politics, elections and social issues, which took effect in November, is still in place, according to Facebook’s Ad Library. 

Google CEO Sundar Pichai is set to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee next month on misinformation and disinformation alongside Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. 

While Google is lifting the ad ban, several tech platforms’ actions in response to the Jan. 6 riot remain. Google, alongside Apple, removed the social media platform Parler from its Google Play Store amid concerns that the platform could foment physical violence via the digital conversation on its site. Parler, which was booted offline via Amazon Web Services, has returned to the web. 

Several tech platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, took action against former President Donald Trump following his messaging and response to the riot. Twitter enacted a permanent suspension against Mr. Trump, and Facebook’s indefinite ban is undergoing a review by Facebook’s oversight board. YouTube, alongside Facebook and Twitter, removed Mr. Trump’s video message to supporters on the afternoon of the riot. 

Rather than lessen their crackdowns relating to political content in the weeks following the riot, the tech platforms have, in some ways, become more aggressive. Facebook said this month it would limit the distribution of political content to U.S. users in the coming weeks and would not make exceptions for news publishers.

Then, last week, Facebook reacted to a proposed Australian law by restricting all news links and posts from news outlets in Australia and prevented the sharing of Australian publications’ links across its platform from users around the world.

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