Want to buy a political ad on Google? You're going to get carded, starting now according to Google which is trying to batten down its policies and make its platform more transparent around political advertising.
To start, only U.S. citizens or people who are legal permanent residents are going to be able to buy ads — and they're going to have to show not only a government-issued ID but also give up other information. Ads are also going to have to disclose who paid for them right on the spot.
Google is also going to create a new Transparency Report, which it plans to release this summer. In there the company will show who is buying election-related ads, and how much money is being spent on this kind of advertising.
Digital companies are in a bind following the 2016 presidential election as details have come to light about data, and how it was used to target and reach voters. Facebook in particular is facing what may be the biggest scandal of its life, following the discovery that data company Cambridge Analytica got hold of 87 million accounts, and the data associated with it, most of them from the U.S. A recent survey finds that most American do not trust the social media site as a result.
Google, founded in 1998 by two Stanford PhD students, and now the defacto search engine on the planet, is also planning to build a library of election ads — searchable so people can find what someone paid to place that add.
The U.S. mid-term elections, set for November 2018, is being watched for a number of congressional seats in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. Scrutiny on companies like Google and Facebook will be particularly high.