Google has removed search ads that charged users searching for voting information large fees for voter registration or harvested their personal data.
A Google spokeswoman told Reuters the company’s misrepresentation policy barred such ads, which were found by the non-profit watchdog Tech Transparency Project when searching for terms such as “register to vote”, “vote by mail” and “where is my polling place”.
Tech Transparency Project says in a report that nearly a third of the more than 600 ads generated by its Google searches took users to sites that try to charge large fees for voter registration services, extract personal data for marketing purposes, install deceptive browser extensions, or serve other misleading ads.
The report says the first ad in a Google search for “register to vote” directed users to a site from PrivacyWall.org that charged $129 for “same-day processing” of voter registration. US voters do not need to pay to register to vote.
PrivacyWall did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
A Google spokeswoman said the company did not yet know how the ads had got through its approval process, which uses a combination of automated and manual review.
Social media companies and online platforms, including Facebook Inc and Twitter are under pressure to curb misinformation on their sites in the run-up to the US presidential election in November.