State of Digital Publishing is pleased to report Google is cracking down on the fake news in an attempt to remove misleading and malicious content from the web. According to its recently released 2016 Bad Ads Report, Google reviewed 550 websites for suspicion of misrepresentation and 340 of those sites were shut down. The action took place in the 2 months following a new AdSense policy implemented in November.

What is misrepresentative content?

It’s not just fake news sites that are feeling the burn. Google has a broad definition of what constitutes “misrepresentative content.” Some of the guidelines used to judge dishonest sites include:

  • Content promoting the falsification of documents, such as diplomas, passports, and fake identities
  • Sale or promotion of term paper creation and test-taking services
  • Content promoting or selling information or products used to falsify drug test results
  • Promotion of any activity deemed fraudulent, including the sale of counterfeit goods

In 2016, Google also removed 1.7 billion ads that were found to be in violation of its policies. This is a massive increase from the previous year; in 2015, 780 million of these ads were taken down.
According to Scott Spencer, Google’s director of product management of sustainable ads, it would take 50 years to remove the ads manually at a rate of 1 second per ad. Fortunately, the technology employed by Google catches and removes ads in violation much faster.

Say goodbye to “trick to click” and predatory lenders

We’ve all seen ads that look like virus warnings and lure users into clicking only to install malicious software onto their devices. A massive 112 million of these ads were removed in 2016, which is a six-fold increase over 2015’s numbers.

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Also targeted for eradication are sites advertising payday loans, which come with incredibly high interest rates that can total in excess of 600 percent. After launching a new policy regarding payday loan ads in July, over 5 million such ads were removed.

Illegal gambling ads are also on the chopping block, with over 17 million removed in the past year. Ads that violate health care advertising policies were also disabled, including 47,000 promoting scams related to weight loss products.

A more honest internet?

The substantial efforts taken by Google to remove false, misleading and malicious content resulted in 80 million ads being removed in 2016. SODP supports integrity and honesty on the web, and we believe Google’s efforts to clean things up will result in a higher-quality user experience.

Have you ever experienced problems related to fake news or misrepresentative content? Sound off and let us know what you think of Google’s new policies.  Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at vahe@stateofdigitalpublishing.com.

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