The tech giant may be in hot water once again as Senator Richard Blumenthal alleges that they're “routinely” failing to curtail fraudulent ads.

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Senator Blumenthal (D.Conn) wrote a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai that stated that Google isn’t doing enough to crack down on deceptive ads, demonstrating a “troubling record of inadequate due diligence against fraud and abuse.”

Blumenthal’s case against Google. Blumenthal is citing an investigation from last year claiming that Google advertisers are impersonating government websites and purchasing ads in an effort to scam consumers. 

Google claims that it took down the deceptive websites, but a recent review from Blumenthal’s office found that a search for the articles’ keywords pulled up the same ads.

Blumenthal also claims that his office continued to find ads for misleading health supplements and treatments such as detox and weight loss teas, two supplements that are restricted from advertising on Google.

What the senator is saying.

“I am deeply concerned that Google appears unwilling to protect consumers and small businesses on Google Ads, and has demonstrated inadequate due diligence against fraud and abuse.”

Blumenthal is giving Google until September 2 to announce changes to “prevent misleading or fraudulent ads from appearing to consumers.” He is also requesting Google answer questions pertaining to the research they do into how users interact with ads.

Google’s response. Google has “strict policies in place to protect people and advertisers alike from abuse,” and “Search ads are also clearly labeled,” says Google spokesperson Davis Thompson in a statement. Thompson also said the company is reviewing the letter and intends to offer a “full response.”

Google’s history of trouble. Rumors about a lawsuit from the US Department of Justice have been swirling around for a while. In June we reported that Google had offered to split part of its ad business to avoid an antitrust lawsuit.

Last year the Federal Trade Commission released a report calling social media a “gold mine” for scammers, citing that 95,000 people had been scammed out of $770 million due to fraud on social media. Though Google isn’t social media, the report demonstrates how easy it is for scammers to utilize the same online tools available to advertisers to target people.

Why we care. Deceptive ads affect everyone from the consumer to the advertiser. If Google isn’t able to crack down on ad scams and fake websites, then legitimate businesses could suffer as a result. Ad policies will become tougher, and the general public could lose trust, making it harder for brands to succeed online. 

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