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Google to pause US political ads ahead of presidential inauguration

Alphabet Inc's Google will stop selling political ads referencing US elections across its services until at least January 21, following last week's violence at the Capitol, according to an email to advertisers seen by Reuters.

The email said the action was taken "following the unprecedented events of the past week and ahead of the upcoming presidential inauguration," which takes place on January 20.

In a statement, Google said it would "temporarily pause all political ads in addition to any ads referencing impeachment, the inauguration, or protests at the U.S. Capitol."

The move, to take effect on Thursday, will make no exceptions for news organizations or merchandisers running ads.

On December 10, Google had lifted a temporary ban on election-related advertisements, which took effect after polls closed in the November US presidential election and aimed to curb misinformation and other abuses on its platforms.

Facebook Inc also paused political ads after the November 3 election, only briefly unfreezing ads around the US Senate election in Georgia earlier this month.

A Google spokeswoman said the company had been employing a limited version of its "Sensitive Event" policy since the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump, which meant it did not allow ads referencing the political violence at the Capitol.

The policy seeks to prohibit content that potentially capitalizes on events like public health emergencies or natural disasters.

In the email, which was first reported by Axios, Google also reminded advertisers of its policy against ads that promote hate or incite violence. "Given the events of the last week, we are extremely vigilant about enforcing on any ads that might reasonably be construed as crossing this line," it said. – Rappler.com