International

2 Senators slam Google for mask ads

San Francisco, March 18 (IANS) | Publish Date: 3/18/2020 12:37:09 PM IST

Two Democratic senators have slammed Google for allowing face mask-selling ads on its platform, asking the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to pursue enforcement action against the tech giant.

According to a CNN report, Senators Mark Warner of Virginia and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said that despite Google’s ban on such ads, they easily spotted several such ads related to face masks.

“Our staff were consistently served dozens of ads for protective masks and hand sanitizer,” the senators told the FTC.

“These ads, from a range of different advertisers, were served by Google on websites for outlets such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, CNBC, The Irish Times, and myriad local broadcasting affiliates”.

Google last week announced to crack down on advertising for face masks during the coronavirus epidemic.

The ban applies to all advertisers, including those who may have had long-running campaigns promoting “dust masks”.

Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai said on Monday that the company has taken down thousands of videos related to dangerous or misleading coronavirus information using its Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based technology.

In a blog post, Pichai said that since January, Google has blocked hundreds of thousands of ads attempting to capitalise on the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last week, we announced a temporary ban on all ads for medical masks and respirators,” he said. Google said the coronavirus tracking and screening website that US President Donald Trump announced the company is building with 1,700 engineers will be up “later this week”.

Google’s subsidiary Verily is building the website to direct people to testing facilities.

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