Google blocked 5,000 bad ads per minute in 2019, sets up Covid-19 taskforce now

Google blocked 5,000 bad ads per minute in 2019, sets up Covid-19 taskforce now
Photo Credit: Reuters
4 May, 2020

Online search engine giant Google blocked and removed 2.7 billion “bad ads” in 2019, which tallies to more than 5,000 fraudulent ads per minute, according to the Mountain View, California-based company. 

“On the publisher side, Google terminated over 1.2 million accounts and removed ads from over 21 million web pages that are part of our publisher network for violating our policies,” Scott Spencer, vice president of product management, ad privacy and safety at the company, said in a blog post.

Additionally, the technology company has set up a dedicated Covid-19 task force to combat related cyberthreats, he said. 

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“We saw a sharp spike in fraudulent ads for in-demand products like face masks. These ads promoted products listed significantly above market price, misrepresented the product quality to trick people into making a purchase or were placed by merchants who never fulfilled the orders,” Spencer said.

The firm blocked and removed tens of millions of coronavirus-related ads over the past few months for policy violations, including price gouging, capitalising on global medical supply shortages, making misleading claims about cures and promoting illegitimate unemployment benefits, according to the blog post.

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Last year, the company blocked over 35 million phishing ads and 19 million “trick-to-click” ads, it said. The number of attacks in both categories was 50% lower than it was in 2018, it added.

“Trick-to-click ads are designed to trick people into interacting with them by using prominent links (for example, “click here”), often designed to look like computer or mobile phone system warnings,” it said.

Additionally, there was an increase in the number of bad actors targeting those looking to renew their passports, it said. To combat the threat, the company put together a team to track and remove these ads, it said. 

To put an end to the increasing number of personal loan ads with misleading information that were cropping up, the company broadened its policy to allow loan-related ads to run only if the advertiser clearly states all fees, risks and benefits on their website or app, it said. The policy update enabled the company to take down 9.6 million of these bad ads in 2019, doubling the number from 2018, it added.