Political ads using artificial intelligence on Google and YouTube must soon be accompanied by a prominent disclosure if imagery or sounds have been synthetically altered
The new rule starts in mid-November, just under a year before the U.S. presidential election. It will also affect campaign ads ahead of next year’s elections in India, South Africa, the European Union and other regions where Google already has a verification process for election advertisers.
Last month the Federal Election Commission began a process to potentially regulate AI-generated deepfakes in political ads ahead of the 2024 election. Such deepfakes can include synthetic voice of political figures saying something they never said.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, co-sponsor of pending legislation that would require disclaimers on deceptive AI-generated political ads, said in a statement that Google’s announcement was a step in the right direction but “we can’t solely rely on voluntary commitments.”
Several states also have discussed or passed legislation related to deepfake technology.
Google is not banning AI outright in political advertising. Exceptions to the ban include synthetic content altered or generated in a way that’s inconsequential to the claims made in the ad. AI can also be used in editing techniques like image resizing, cropping, color, defect correction, or background edits.
The ban will apply to election ads on Google’s own platforms, particularly YouTube, as well as third-party websites that are part of Google’s ad display network.
Google’s action could put some pressure on other platforms to follow its lead. Facebook and Instagram parent Meta doesn’t have a rule specific to AI-generated political ads but already restricts “faked, manipulated or transformed” audio and imagery used for misinformation. TikTok doesn’t allow any political ads. X, formerly Twitter, didn’t immediately reply to an emailed request for comment.