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Pointing not only to an influx of fake news and spam, but also an ongoing challenge to distinguish what's real and what's not, Google took down 1.7 billion ads last year that violated its advertising policies—more than double the amount it removed in 2015.
In a post the company published yesterday, Google said it removed a vast amount of different types of ads.
Google removed more than 17 million bad ads for illegal gambling violations and suspended around 6,000 sites, as well as another 6,000 accounts, for attempting to advertise counterfeit goods.
In addition to keeping an eye out for these types of ads, which have been around for a while, Google also saw a rise of a new type of scammer, what it calls "tabloid cloakers," but many know it simply as fake news.
"Cloakers often take advantage of timely topics—a government election, a trending news story or a popular celebrity—and their ads can look like headlines on a news website," the company said in the blog post. As part of its bad ads takedown, Google said it suspended more than 1,300 accounts for tabloid cloaking.
This isn't the company's first time facing issues with fake news. Google was forced to change its policy last year after a top news link on Google in a search for "final election results" led people to a fake news site.
"Google's efforts are further evidence that the digital advertising ecosystem is increasingly intolerant of falsified, fraudulent and other misleading practices coming from parties hoping to make a quick buck," said Lauren Fisher, a senior analyst at eMarketer. "The more companies like Google and others can do to detect and shut down these bad ads, the less harm they can cause to advertisers, well-intending publishers and even consumers."
By and large, there has been a rise in fake news appearing online, and it's not something that Google alone is focusing on. Publishers, agencies and even brands that are buying programmatically, are worried.
So are social networks. Facebook has been trying to curb the overwhelming amount of fake news appearing on its social site. Most recently, the company said it would be modifying its Trending Topics section—a feature that shows people popular topics being discussed on the social network—in an effort to keep fake news from trending.
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