Political Ads Must Disclose Use Of AI, Says Google

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Google is updating its political content policy to include a new mandate that all verified election advertisers must disclose uses of artificial intelligence (AI) in campaign content. On Sept. 6, the tech giant said the disclosures are required where there is “synthetic content that inauthentically depicts real or realistic-looking people or events.” Additionally, it said these notices must be “clear and conspicuous” in places where users will notice them.

“Ads that contain synthetic content altered or generated in such a way that is inconsequential to the claims made in the ad will be exempt from these disclosure requirements.”

The examples given by Google include using AI in the editing process, like resizing, cropping, color or defect corrections or any peripheral edits that don’t “create realistic depictions of actual events.” This updated policy will apply to image, video and audio content and will be implemented in mid-November 2023; according to the update.

This comes exactly one year before the United States presidential elections in November 2024. There are fears AI will supercharge disinformation around the campaigns. Demonstrably false claims that could undermine trust in the electoral process are forbidden at Google, according to the tech giant’s ad policy.

Google requires political ads to disclose who paid for them, and makes information about the messages available in an online ads library. Disclosures of digitally altered content in election ads must be “clear and conspicuous”, and put where they are likely to be noticed.

Examples of what would warrant a label included synthetic imagery or audio showing a person saying or doing something they did not do, or depicting an event that did not occur. In March, a fake picture of former US President Donald Trump falsely showing him being arrested was shared on social media. The image was created by AI tools. Also in March, a deepfake video circulated of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky talking of surrendering to Russia.

The topic of disclosures for AI-generated content has been a major topic since the prominent emergence of mass AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT has made it easier to create and circulate such content. As AI continues to be pervasive in various sectors, Google and other major tech companies have been ramping up their focus on AI tools and services.

In a memo from the CEO of Google on Sept. 5, he said he has been thinking of pivoting the company to be an “AI-first company” since he joined in 2015. On Aug. 17, Google upgraded its search engine to include AI-powered enhancements to help streamline search functions.

It also joined forces with OpenAI and Microsoft to create the Frontier Model Forum, which they intend to use to help self-regulate AI development from within the industry. Google’s interest in developing AI policies has expanded to its other platforms, including YouTube, which recently released its “principles” for working with the music industry on AI-related tech.

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