Google strengthens political ad transparency with synthetic content disclosure

Starting July 2024, Google requires political ads to disclose the use of synthetic content to enhance viewer awareness.

Google strengthens political ad transparency with synthetic content disclosure

Google today announced an update to its Political content policy, effective in July 2024. This update focuses on transparency by requiring advertisers to disclose the use of synthetic content in political ads.

Synthetic content, also known as deepfakes, refers to artificially generated or manipulated visual or audio content that appears convincingly real. This technology can be used to create videos or images depicting people saying or doing things they never did in reality.

The ability to create realistic synthetic content raises concerns about potential misuse in political campaigns. Disclosing the use of synthetic content helps viewers understand the authenticity of the information presented in political ads.

Under the updated policy, advertisers running political ads that contain synthetic content depicting real or realistic-looking people or events will be required to disclose this information.

Automated Disclosure for Certain Formats: For ads displayed in mobile feeds, shorts, and in-stream formats (across various devices), Google will automatically generate an in-ad disclosure when the advertiser selects the "Altered or synthetic content" checkbox in campaign settings.

Manual Disclosure for Other Formats: For all other ad formats, advertisers are responsible for both selecting the checkbox and including a clear and prominent disclosure within the ad itself. This disclosure should be easily noticeable by viewers.

Acceptable Disclosure Language

The specific wording of the disclosure can vary depending on the content. Here are some examples provided by Google:

  • Altered or synthetic content.
  • This audio was computer generated.
  • This image does not depict real events.
  • This video content was synthetically generated.

This policy change aims to combat potential misinformation and promote transparency in political advertising. By requiring disclosure of synthetic content, Google hopes to empower viewers to make informed decisions about the information they encounter online.

The use of synthetic content is a developing technology with potential implications beyond political advertising. It remains to be seen how Google's approach to disclosure might evolve in the future.

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