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Google will begin to lift its ban on coronavirus-related advertising this week in the wake of criticism from some Democrats that the company was helping the Trump administration spread false information about the pandemic.
In the coming days, Google will begin to allow “government entities, hospitals, medical providers, and NGOs” to run ads related to the novel coronavirus on its platforms.
Since February, most nongovernmental advertisers have been barred from running ads related to the COVID-19 pandemic to stifle organizations seeking to spread misinformation or profiteer off of the panic.
“This policy was designed to protect users and block ads that try to capitalize on short-term events like natural disasters. As the COVID-19 situation evolves, we’ve been adjusting our enforcement to ensure that we are protecting users while prioritizing critical information. We first started allowing health information PSA ads from government entities and supported these efforts with $250 million in donated ad grants. Now, we are looking at ways to support limited COVID-19-related ads from hospitals, medical providers, government entities, and NGOs," a Google spokesperson told Fox News via email.
"We also realize that COVID-19 is becoming an important part of everyday conversation, including a relevant topic in political discourse and for many advertisers in different sectors, and we’re planning to allow more advertisers to run ads related to COVID-19 as soon as we’re able to do so safely," the spokesperson explained.
Democratic lawmakers and operatives have said the Google advertising ban was a gift to Trump's reelection campaign.
"To not allow political candidates to mention or discuss COVID-19 is something that has the potential to dramatically bolster Trump's and Republicans' chances of reelection," Mark Jablonowski, the chief technology officer and managing partner of DSPolitical, a top digital ad firm that works with Democratic campaigns and progressive causes, told Protocol.
In a note sent out to advertisers that was viewed by Fox News, Google Head of Industry Mark Beatty explained the decision.
"This week, we’re allowing ads from government entities, hospitals, medical providers, and NGOs who want to get relevant information out to the public," Beatty wrote in the email. "Soon, we’re planning to allow other advertisers, including political organizations, to run ads related to COVID-19. We will have more information to share on this in the next few days."