Wednesday 16 October 2019

Google removes ads that target Walsh for 'homosexual lifestyle'

On the campaign trail: Maria Walsh with Michael Ring in Newbridge, Co Kildare. Picture: Doug O'Connor
On the campaign trail: Maria Walsh with Michael Ring in Newbridge, Co Kildare. Picture: Doug O'Connor
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Internet giant Google has removed advertisements directing users to a website that targeted EU election candidate Maria Walsh for her "homosexual lifestyle".

The company has committed to clamping down on advertisements that seek to influence voters ahead of tomorrow's poll.

But voters who searched for the Fine Gael representative yesterday were being directed toward a page designed to undermine her candidacy.

In negative terms it accused her of promoting LGBT values to teenagers and trying to strip young people of their morals. The author also questioned her qualifications to be a candidate.

Fine Gael complained to Google and the advertisements were subsequently removed.

A spokesperson for the company told the Irish Independent: "Because we want people to better understand the political advertising they see online, we've introduced a new policy to verify advertisers and a transparency report for the EU parliamentary election.

"We continue to improve our processes and if we discover ads that are breaking this rule, we take appropriate action."

Chair of the Oireachtas Communications Committee Hildegarde Naughton said she expected Google executives to answer questions on the issue of disinformation during this year's European Election campaign when the company appears before the International Grand Committee in Dublin later this year.

"The website contains a number of false claims about Maria and was promoted through Google Ads. This is a clear breach of Google's own policy that it outlined before the elections," Ms Naughton said.

"I have long said that the time for self-regulation for tech companies is over and the fact that this website slipped through the net shows that companies need to be more stringent."

Irish Independent

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