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article imageGoogle takes aim at bad ads that deceive you and hide malware

By James Walker     Jan 26, 2017 in Technology
Google has revealed it banned nearly two billion bad ads during 2016. The company has published a set of statistics that highlight how prevalent malicious advertising has become. It is developing new technologies to remove offending ads.
Google took down a total of over 1.7 billion ads that violated its policies during 2016. The company said that it would take over 50 years to remove them all if one was deleted every second.
Google's AdSense platform has observed an alarming rise in the number of bad ads being displayed across the web. In particular, six times more "trick to click" ads were deleted in 2016 than in 2015.  These ads commonly appear as fake software download buttons or system warnings claiming your PC is infected. Clicking on the ad frequently installs malware.
Google removed almost 80 million adverts for intentionally trying to mislead or deceive their viewers. These ads tend to be defined by offers of miracle cure products and clickbait headlines, often accompanied by your location.
Worryingly, ads for illegal products are continuing to spread. Last year, Google banned over 68 million ads that violated healthcare rules, up from only 12.5 million in 2015. Similarly, 17 million ads were removed for promoting gambling services without the proper license to do so.
Google sought to address the concerns of critics that its AdSense platform is becoming increasingly infiltrated by malicious ads. It said it has "strict policies" that define what constitutes a bad ad. If an ad network is found to be breaking the rules, severe sanctions are imposed, including permanent account termination. The same applies for websites and content publishers that intentionally host offending ads.
"Publishers and website owners use our AdSense platform to make money by running ads on their sites and content, so we have strict policies in place to keep Google's content and search networks safe and clean for our advertisers, users and publishers," said Google. "When a publisher violates our policies, we may stop showing ads on their site, or even terminate their account."
Google also pledged to take action on sites that help people to deceive others, such as services that sell plagiarized writing or fake qualifications. Between November and December 2016, the company found 340 sites guilty of misrepresentation. Amongst the culprits were publishers pretending to be genuine news organisations. 200 offenders were permanently banned from AdSense.
With malicious ads an increasingly troublesome problem, ad networks, platforms and publishers will need to work together to help internet users stay safe online. Adverts that surreptitiously download software packages have been used to orchestrate large-scale malware campaigns, often without the user noticing. Google said it will continue to find and fight the bad ads but last year's statistics show it may not succeed alone.
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