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Google has removed nearly 200 websites from its advertising platform since announcing it would purge fake news publishers last November.
The search giant released the number as part of its annual fraudulent advertising report, in which the company recaps its efforts to fight scams, malware and other harmful ads over the course of the past year. Those efforts now extend to deceitful publishers too, thanks to a recent change in the rules governing Google’s AdSense network, which places ads across thousands of third-party sites.
The update was first announced in the wake of the presidential election as Google and other online platforms came under increased scrutiny for their role in spreading deliberately fake news.
Google now avoids using the term fake news, however, because the label has become too ambiguous, according to a company spokesperson. Instead, it prefers misrepresentative content.
The search giant recently edited a section of its advertising guidelines to reflect that wording. The spokesperson said all of the sites in question were flagged specifically because of the rule change, though that wasn’t necessarily why they were ultimately punished. The platform’s policy also bars sites that engage in other nefarious activities like pornography, piracy and gambling. Including the bans, the company says it has disciplined a total of 340 publishers in some manner since November. In addition to the fake news crackdown, Google also said that it blocked 1.7 billion fraudulent ads last year — nearly twice as many as it did the previous year. Those included everything from weight loss scams and fake products to malware-laced pop-ups and phishing hoaxes.
Google’s decision to ban all ads from payday lenders last year was part of the reason for the uptick.