Google India, on Tuesday, announced a transparent political advertising policy ahead of the upcoming general elections in India wherein more than 850 million voters are expected to elect the country's new government. Google India has said it will introduce an India-specific Political Advertising Transparency Report and searchable Political Ads Library ahead of the elections. The report and library will provide comprehensive information about who is purchasing election ads on Google platforms and how much money is being spent.
"We're thinking hard about elections and how we continue to support democratic processes in India and around the world. In line with this, we are bringing more transparency to election advertising online, and surfacing relevant information to help people better navigate the electoral process", Chetan Krishnaswamy, director of public policy, Google India said.
"Election ads on Google platforms will also disclose who has paid for the ad", a statement issued by Google India reads.
During the 2014 general elections, it was claimed by analysts that the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) had campaigned so well on the social media platforms that it skewed voters mind in its favour.
The BJP had set up a "digital war room" comprising graduates from the elite Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Management to manage its digital presence.
In May 2014, Psychologist Robert Epstein found that search engines have the potential to profoundly influence voters without them noticing the impact. Epstein has coined a term for this power: Search Engine Manipulation Effect, with the acronym SEME.
Google has been facing similar charges in the US. Last month, Google's CEO Sundar Pichai was grilled for more than three hours by US lawmakers about search result bias and the data Google collects.