Google (2)

The UK government, The Guardian and the Vietnamese government seem united, they have all acted in fury concerning news content and ads on Google.

The UK government's fury relates to YouTube. Its ads are appearing alongside videos presenting ideas and beliefs that are deemed by the government to be, how shall we put it, less than desirable - rape apologists or anti-Semitic, for example.

The Guardian is perhaps the highest profile company to be similarly upset. It has pulled all of its online advertising from Google after it found some of its ads appeared next to extremist content.

Other companies are said to be planning to follow suit.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, the government has called on businesses to halt online advertising in the company until Google, Facebook and co stopped running fake news, otherwise known as news it doesn't like.

The UK government said: "Digital advertising is a cost-effective way for the Government to engage millions of people in vital campaigns such as military recruitment and blood donation. Google is responsible for ensuring the high standards applied to Government advertising are adhered to and that adverts do not appear alongside inappropriate content. We have placed a temporary restriction on our YouTube advertising, pending reassurances from Google that Government messages can be delivered in a safe and appropriate way. Google has been summoned for discussions at the Cabinet Office to explain how it will deliver the high quality of service Government demands on behalf of the taxpayer."

The Guardian CEO, David Pemsel, penned a letter to Google EMEA boss Matt Brittin saying: "Given the dominance of Google, DoubleClick and YouTube in the digital economy, many brands feel that it is essential to place advertising on your platform. It is therefore vital that Google, DoubleClick and YouTube uphold the highest standards in terms of openness, transparency, and measures to avoid advertising fraud and misplacement in the future. It is very clear that this is not the case at the moment."

A Google spokeswoman said: "We have strict guidelines that define where Google ads should appear, and in the vast majority of cases, our policies work as intended, protecting users and advertisers from harmful or inappropriate content. We accept that we don't always get it right, and that sometimes, ads appear where they should not. We're committed to doing better, and will make changes to our policies and brand controls for advertisers."

Vietnam's Information and Communication Minister, Truong Minh Tuan said "Today we call on all Vietnamese firms that are advertising not to abet them to take advertising money from firms to use against the Vietnamese government. We also call on all internet users to raise their voice to Google and Facebook to prevent toxic, fake content violating Vietnamese law in the online environment."

However, he complained that so far the response has not been good enough.

Tricky one this. Algorithms get it wrong and can struggle to spot the difference between irony and lies, legitimate opinion and inflammatory language. But one thing is for sure, it will do media rivals no harm if Google loses ad revenue and the fake news backlash rather suits the agenda of all organizations that think all editorial that contradicts government propaganda is fake news.

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