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Cybersecurity News that Matters

Google to mandate disclosure on digitally altered election advertisements

Illustration by Areum Hwang, The Readable

by Kuksung Nam

Jul. 02, 2024
11:12 PM GMT+9

Google is enhancing its policy to combat election disinformation by imposing mandatory requirements on advertisers to disclose whether election advertisements have been digitally altered.

In a blog post on Monday, the United States tech giant announced changes to its disclosure requirements under its political content policy. According to the new rules, advertisers must select “Altered or Synthetic Content” in their campaign settings when publishing election advertisements that falsely depict real or realistic people or events manipulated, modified, or otherwise altered using digital means.

Once marketers select the checkbox, Google will generate in-ad disclaimers to help users discern the authenticity of a given advertisement. This policy will apply across various formats including feeds (streams of content accessible through online scrolling) and shorts on moblie phones. In addition, it will be adopted in in-stream ads on moblie phones, computers and televisions. In-stream advertisements play before, during, or after other online videos or content, regardless of whether they appear on standard websites or streaming platforms.

Besides these formats, advertisers must personally provide detailed statements like “This audio was computer-generated,” “This image does not depict real events,” or “This video content was synthetically generated.” Google emphasized that the language used may vary depending on the context of the advertisement. However, the disclosure must be clear, conspicuous, and positioned in a location that ensures high visibility to viewers.

These changes come amidst growing concerns about the potential misuse of artificial intelligence technology to spread disinformation ahead of the upcoming U.S. election, scheduled for November.

During a hearing on foreign threats to this year’s elections held last May, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines highlighted the threat posed by emerging technologies to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. She referenced an AI-manipulated fake audio recording released online just two days before Slovakia’s parliamentary election in September last year. Additionally, in a report issued last April, the Microsoft Threat Analysis Center warned of a Chinese influence campaign aiming to influence the U.S. election through the use of AI technologies.

  • Notification: This article was updated on July 4, 2024, at 12:07am (GMT+9) for clarity.
Illustration by Areum Hwang, The Readable

Related article: Google restricts political ads and AI answers on South Korean elections

Google has temporarily ceased the provision of political advertisements in South Korea in anticipation of the national assembly elections next week. Moreover, South Korean users will be unable to receive answers to election-related questions from the company’s artificial intelligence chatbot, Gemini.

In a statement on the company’s blog dated March 25, Google’s Korea team announced, “To comply with local regulations, we do not support political advertisements during the election period.” While the search giant did not specify the regulation it was adhering to, its decision appears to be influenced by the Public Official Election Act. According to this law, South Korea prohibits the use of unspecified methods for running advertisements, including broadcasters, newspapers, communications, magazines, or other periodicals for election campaigning. READ MORE

Related article: AI-driven Chinese influence campaigns target elections across Korea, US, India, experts warn

China is poised to influence South Korea’s upcoming general election by leveraging artificial intelligence technology, according to a report from a United States-based technology company on April 4. This development has sounded alarms for both voters and candidates preparing for the polls this Wednesday.

The Microsoft Threat Analysis Center (MTAC) has reported that a Chinese influence campaign is expected to target elections in South Korea, the United States, and India. The report highlights that South Korea’s general election, scheduled for April 10, will see over 30 million eligible voters casting their ballots. Additionally, India is gearing up for the world’s largest democratic election, with more than 960 million registered voters set to choose their parliament members in an election spanning two months, beginning April 19. The United States is also preparing for its presidential election, slated for November 5. READ MORE


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  • Kuksung Nam
    : Author

    Kuksung Nam is a journalist for The Readable. She has extensively traversed the globe to cover the latest stories on the cyber threat landscape and has been producing in-depth stories on security and...

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