Google says it’s blocked more than 99 million phony COVID-related ads

Google says it cracked down on misleading COVID-19 ads in 2020.

James Martin/CNET

Google has blocked over 99 million bogus COVID-related ads from its server, the company said in a blog post Monday. The blocked topics range from fake miracle cures and vaccine doses to counterfeit N95 masks. The search giant’s annual Ads Safety Report detailed the company’s 2020 efforts to combat misinformation.

“We continue to be nimble, tracking bad actors’ behavior and learning from it,” Google VP of Ads Privacy and Safety Scott Spencer said in the post. “In doing so, we’re able to better prepare for future scams and claims that may arise.”

Read more: How to get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment

To battle these fake ads, Spencer said, Google put new policies and programs in place, invested in new coordination technology, and improved its automated detection technology and human processes.

In addition to the fake COVID-19 ads, Google reported blocking and removing about 3.1 billion ads for policy violations, as well as restricting another 6.4 billion ads. Other platforms, like Facebook and YouTube, have also sought to remove misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic over the last year. 

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