Google and Twitter reverse coronavirus ad bans

Platforms had initially banned coronavirus-related paid messaging in order to stop spread of misinformation.

Covid-19: Google and Twitter had banned ads related to pandemic
Covid-19: Google and Twitter had banned ads related to pandemic

Google and Twitter will no longer ban advertising that includes messaging related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The tech companies, each heavily dependent on advertising revenue, had initially banned advertising that mentioned "coronavirus" for fear of spreading misinformation on their platforms. Google and Twitter also heavily rely on automated content moderation (instead of humans, for the most part) to sustain their high-volume ad business models.

However, Twitter will now allow marketers to communicate their responses to the pandemic in paid tweets, Ad Age reports. Sarah Personette, Twitter’s head of client solutions, said "the messaging that brands and businesses can provide to the world… are going to be positively received".

Last month, Twitter issued guidelines on how brands should communicate durng the crisis and stopped them from using paid campaigns to promote coronavirus-related conversations to wider audiences. 

Google has also U-turned on banning coronavirus-related advertising after complaints from US Democratic politicians, who said the ban would block criticism of president Donald Trump over his handling of the pandemic. Trump, a Republican, is seeking re-election in this year’s vote.

A Google spokesperson told Protocol: "As the Covid-19 situation evolves, we've been adjusting our enforcement to ensure that we are protecting users while prioritizing critical information. We are looking at ways to support limited Covid-19-related ads from hospitals, medical providers, government entities and non-governmental organisations."

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