Calls to ban election ads on FB, other platforms rise after Google announcement

December 1, 2021 - 5:35 PM
Small toy figures are seen in front of Google logo in this illustration picture, April 8, 2019. (Reuters/Dado Ruvic/File Photo)

Some Filipinos called on social media platforms to follow Google‘s new policy of not accepting election advertisements for the coming 2022 national elections.

Google announced that this policy covers the campaign period from Feb. 8, 2022 to May 9, 2022, which is election day.

The ban includes advertisements that promote or oppose “any political party or the candidacy of any person or party for public office.”

READ: Google to ban political advertising ahead of 2022 elections 

This also applies to materials purchased via Google Ads, Display and Video 360 and Shopping platforms to be placed on Google, YouTube and partner properties.

The search engine giant said that this is part of its efforts to provide people with useful and accurate information through its own election-related initiatives.

“Google is focusing its efforts and resources on upcoming election-related initiatives which aim to help people access useful and accurate information via product features and media literacy programs, encourage participation in the voting process, and help protect the integrity of the elections,” it said.

These initiatives include the #MagpaRehistroKa campaign of the Commission on Elections, MullenLowe TREYNA, and Dashboard Philippines.

The company previously hosted Comelec’s voter registration website on Google Cloud. It also promoted this campaign on its own social media channels.

In 2021, Google, in partnership with CANVAS, also launched an online publication called #YOUTHink magazine in English and Cebuano languages as part of its commitment to fight misinformation through media and information literacy.

Definition of ads according to Comelec

The poll body later relayed this announcement on its official social media pages.

In its statement, Comelec specified the definition of “political advertisements” or “election propaganda” under the Fair Elections Act.

Both terms refer to “any matter broadcasted, published, printed, displayed or exhibited, in any medium, which contains the name, image, logo, brand, insignia, initials, and other symbol or 4 graphic representation that is capable of being associated with a candidate, and is exclusively intended to draw the attention of the public or a segment thereof to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the election of the said candidate or candidates to a public office.”

Political advertisements also include “endorsements, statements, declarations, or information graphics, appearing on any internet website, social network, blogging site, and micro-blogging site, which – when taken as a whole – has for its principal object the endorsement of a candidate only, or which were posted in return for consideration or are otherwise capable of pecuniary estimation.”

Other social media platforms

While some social media users welcomed this move, others hoped that social media platforms such as Facebook, with new name “Meta,” and Twitter would follow suit as well.

“Actually mas may impact kung FB to…,” creative director Thysz Estrada said.

“NAOL. Hello, Facebook. Harvest season na naman ng fake news. Dapat dyan finifilter and tinatanggal. Mas dumadami ang mga tanga at nagtatangtangahan sa pinas kasi,” Twitter user said.

“@Meta should follow suit. This is the first time that Google stopped accepting advertisements for a political campaign in any country,” a Twitter user said. 
“So that leaves Facebook and Twitter and online media,” journalist Raissa Roble said.

Others suggested that Google should also go after accounts that release or upload harmful and false content on its platforms.

“Google needs to uproot these accounts and the content they propagandize. The abuses on such platforms need to be stopped to have an issue-based discourse in our elections,” one user said.

Some personalities, on the other hand, asked about political videos on YouTube that are not declared as advertisements.

“This is good but what about YouTube videos that aren’t posted as ads? There are infinitely more of those,” reporter Barnaby Lo said.

“We all know many social media ads in PH elections aren’t declared. What’s it going to do about all the Marcos-related revisionism amplified by the YouTube algorithm that is packaged as organic content?” reporter Regine Cabato said.