SAN FRANCISCO: Google said Thursday (Apr 30) its task force devoted to fighting "bad" ads hawking bogus COVID-19 cures, illegitimate unemployment benefits and overpriced medical supplies had blocked tens of millions of messages.
Google has blocked and removed coronavirus-related marketing pitches in recent months for policy violations including price-gouging and misleading claims, according to ads privacy and safety vice president Scott Spencer.
"We have a dedicated COVID-19 task force working around the clock building new detection technology and improving our existing enforcement systems to stop bad actors," Spencer said in a blog post.
"These concerted efforts are working."
With health worries pervasive around the world, guarding against efforts to take advantage of people through pandemic-themed online ads is a priority, according to Spencer.
Google said it has been watching closely for advertising abuses taking advantage of the crisis since the COVID-19 outbreak started.
Deceptive ads have often been the work of "sophisticated actors attempting to evade our enforcement systems with advanced tactics", Spencer said.
He gave the example of a sharp spike in ads offering coveted supplies such as face masks at inflated prices designed to entice online orders that are never filled.
Alphabet-owned Google has a clear interest in protecting the integrity of the online advertising platform that is its money-making engine.
Google last year blocked and removed 2.7 billion "bad ads" and suspended nearly a million advertising accounts for policy violations, according to Spencer.
The California-based internet firm assembled a team last year to track signs of phishing or trickery regarding clicking on links, cutting the numbers of such "bad ads" by 50 per cent as a result, Spencer said.
Google blocked more than 35 million phishing ads and 19 million "trick-to-click" ads last year, according to the company.