Google blocked nearly 100 million misleading coronavirus ads in 2020

Google blocked nearly 100 million misleading coronavirus ads in 2020
© Getty Images

Google blocked 99 million ads worldwide related to the coronavirus pandemic that would have violated its policies in 2020, according to a transparency report released by the company Wednesday.

The advertisements included attempts to sell fabricated cures, N95 masks when there was a shortage early in the pandemic and fake vaccines.

“As we learned more about the virus and health organizations issued new guidance, we evolved our enforcement strategy to start allowing medical providers, health organizations, local governments and trusted businesses to surface critical updates and authoritative content, while still preventing opportunistic abuse,” Google’s vice president of ad privacy and safety Scott Spencer said in a blog post.


Overall, Google blocked or removed 3.1 billion ads during 2020. More than 850 million of those were sanctioned for abusing the company’s ad network. 

The platform also restricted another 6.4 billion ads, limiting their reach or requiring advertisers to meet some requirements.

“Our enforcement is not one-size-fits-all, and this is the first year we’re sharing information on ad restrictions, a core part of our overall strategy,” Spencer explained.

Wednesday’s report also provided details on the political ad ban that Google instituted around the general election in the U.S.

The company blocked advertisements on 3 billion searches that referenced the election or its outcome. More than 5 million ads were temporarily paused during the five-week freeze after Nov. 3.