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Google to suspend ads for political candidates in Taiwan starting Nov. 15

Google to halt ads by political candidates in Taiwan for rest of 2020 election cycle

Google Doodle for 2018 Taiwan elections.

Google Doodle for 2018 Taiwan elections.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Google announced on Wednesday (Nov. 13) that it has decided to suspend all advertisements by political candidates in Taiwan from Nov. 15 to Jan. 17.

In a post on the official Google blog for Taiwan, Anita Chen (陳幼臻), senior manager of public and government affairs at Google Taiwan, wrote that as Taiwan's 2020 election nears, the country still needs time to improve its digital literacy. She wrote that "Google believes that the construction of democracy comes from communication, discussion, and tolerance among all people so as to jointly form a policy recognized by the majority."

Chen added that "In the process of communication in a pluralistic society, it is necessary to measure democratic values, policy norms, industry responsibilities, and social perceptions, which is a challenge that is not easy but worthy of careful consideration." Chen wrote that in the face of disinformation, Google must continue to work with Taiwan's "outstanding third-party verification partners" to make positive changes "to the media literacy and digital literacy of Taiwanese society."

However, Chen wrote that the changes will take time and given that the election is imminent, "Google has decided to bar all advertising platforms from Nov. 15, 2019, to Jan. 17, 2020, from accepting the campaign ads of Taiwanese candidates."

Those barred from placing advertisements during this period include the candidates of political parties running for president, vice president, and legislative seats as well as incumbents vying to keep their post as president, vice president, and legislator, according to Google's updated advertising policy for political content.

Chen closed by writing that Google is "very pleased to provide a diversified and open network platform for all walks of life in Taiwan to communicate and discuss freely so that all opinions can be circulated and transmitted. And at the same time, we will do our best to fight against false information with our third-party partners in Taiwan."

In response to challenges brought on by Taiwan's 2020 presidential race, Google launched a number of initiatives in the first half of the year to work with other sectors in combatting disinformation. After holding an in-depth fact-checking training camp with third-party organizations in June, Google and the Cabinet held a forum in September on disinformation and fact-checking skills with 80 representatives from Taiwanese government ministries and departments.

In October, Google hosted the "online campaign tool training camp," which included more than 40 representatives of legislators' offices and candidate campaign teams to explore ways to improve the output and performance of high-quality content in the upcoming 2020 election.