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Google faces more allegations over misleading ads

Democratic lawyer Richard Blumenthal recounts a 2021 Markup investigation that still stands

In a letter written to Google’s CEO on Tuesday, democratic lawmaker Sen. Richard Blumenthal stressed the tech giant has routinely failed to exercise due diligence on deceptive ads that violated its policies.

“I am deeply concerned that Google appears unwilling to protect consumers and small businesses on Google Ads, and has demonstrated inadequate due diligence against fraud and abuse,” Blumenthal wrote.

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Citing a 2021 article from The Markup, Blumenthal drew attention to how Google violated its own policies by running ads that mimicked government websites. The imposter ads in question were later revoked by Google. A verification process was also introduced to limit imitations of federal services. 

Even so, Blumenthal states there’s newfound evidence suggesting the deceptive ads continue to resurface with the same keywords mentioned in the 2021 article. Additionally, new ads regarding misleading weight loss treatments have also appeared.

Blumenthal added Google’s focus on “paid ads over real answers” serves to hurt and bury smaller competitors, while the tech giant continues to benefit.

Addressing the allegations, a Google spokesperson said, “We have strict policies in place to protect people and advertisers alike from abuse, including rules that govern the use of trademarks in ad campaigns and safeguard businesses from infringement.” 

“Our Google Search ads are also clearly labeled and we rely on extensive user testing to ensure ad labels meet our high standards for being prominent and distinguishable from unpaid results. We are reviewing Senator Blumenthal’s letter and will work directly with his office to provide a full response.”

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