Google to require campaign ads to disclose AI use

Google will require verified election advertisers to disclose when their ads have been digitally altered, including through the use of artificial intelligence (AI), the company said Wednesday. 

The update to Google’s policy will go into effect in November, one year before the 2024 presidential election. The new rules come as the use of AI in campaign content has become more prevalent, especially in the Republican presidential primary. 

“Given the growing prevalence of tools that produce synthetic content, we’re expanding our policies a step further to require advertisers to disclose when their election ads include material that’s been digitally altered or generated,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. 

“This update builds on our existing transparency efforts — it’ll help further support responsible political advertising and provide voters with the information they need to make informed decisions,” the spokesperson said.

All verified election advertisers are required to “prominently disclose” if an ad contains synthetic content that has been digitally altered or generated and “depicts real or realistic-looking people or events,” according to Google. 

Ads that have “minor alterations that are inconsequential to the claims,” such as resizing images, color corrections or minor background edits, are exempt from the disclosure requirements. 

For example, an ad with synthetic content that makes it appear as if a person is saying or doing something they did not say or do would require a disclosure. An ad that altered footage of a real event or generated a realistic portrayal of an event would also require a disclosure, according to Google. 

To disclose the use of AI, the ad could contain language that states, “This audio was computer generated,” or, “This image does not depict real events.” 

The new rules about disclosures build on Google’s previous policy against manipulated media, which prohibits ads that have been manipulated to “deceive, defraud or mislead users” on issues around politics or matters of public concern.

The manipulated media policy will continue to be enforced along with the new disclosure rules.

Google’s policy update comes as regulators have also been grappling with the use of AI in campaign ads. 

The Federal Elections Commission voted last month to consider a potential rule clarification that would address the use of AI in campaign ads, after a petition by the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. 

Some Democrats in Congress also backed Public Citizen’s push and have signaled potential action in Congress to address concerns around AI use in campaigns.

Tags 2024 election 2024 election AI AI Artificial Intelligence Artificial intelligence campaigns Google Google