Google has announced an update expanding its Sensitive Events Policy to publishers, aiming to better address ads and content running during or about sensitive world events across more of its platforms.

The new policy will go into effect in February 2024 and more clearly define what constitutes a “sensitive event” for purposes of prohibiting certain exploitative or insensitive ads and content. While Google already had policies in place for ads and YouTube monetization, this expands the restrictions to Google’s publisher network as well.

Defining Sensitive Events

As per the updated policy, a sensitive event is defined as an unforeseen or unexpected situation that poses a significant risk to Google’s ability to provide high-quality, relevant information while reducing insensitive content in prominent and monetized features.

Sensitive events include those with major social, cultural, or political impact such as civil emergencies, natural disasters, public health crises, terrorism, conflict, or mass violence.

During such events, Google may take action to address risks around misinformation, fraud, and other predatory practices.

Prohibited Exploitative Practices

The updated policy provides prohibited practices, including price gouging, misdirected traffic, and victim blaming during sensitive events. Google has long had policies in place that protect against the exploitation of sensitive events for financial gain.

Google’s Commitment To Responsible Advertising

Google’s update to its inappropriate content policy for ads aims to strike a balance during major world events.

On one hand, the company seeks to provide access to timely information and maintain revenue streams that support online content and services. However, Google faces rising demands to limit misinformation and exploitation on its advertising platforms.

While the restrictions on ads and YouTube monetization are not new policies, expanding them to publishers shows Google’s increased efforts to limit exploitation.

For advertisers and publishers, the changing policies require close attention to stay compliant. And for users, it remains to be seen how effectively the rules curb harmful ads in the moments that matter most.

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