Technology giant Google was indicted in an investigation by The in 2018 BBC This means that ads for expensive unofficial Esta services were displayed at the top of the search results even after 8 years of the first complaint. At the time, Google had reportedly said that “the problem has been fixed,” that “machine learning” was used to correct the problem, and that it will take some time to resolve. Esta stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization, for which the US has been charging fees for British travelers since 2010. According to the BBC’s earlier report, “Unofficial sites that charge five times the US government’s are soon flooding the top of Google search results despite violating Google’s ad rules. ”
Cut to 2021, and the BBC released another report stating that Google failed to keep its promise as misleading ads are still sliding through their networks. It is said that it “found ads for expensive third-party advertisers every time it searched within a 12-month period”.
The report adds, “In the UK, changing the address on your driver’s license is free. However, Google has regularly served ads for services that charge £ 49.99. Applying for an Esta travel authorization to visit the US should cost no more than US $ 14 (£ 10). However, Google has repeatedly allowed ads for websites that charge more than $ 80. In Google search results, ads are similar to organic results and appear at the top of the list. ”
In a statement to the BBC, Google said, “We have strict policies that govern the types of ads and advertisers we allow on our platforms. We only allow governments or their delegated vendors to advertise official documents or services.”
The tech giant also said it removed 3.1 billion ads that violated its guidelines in 2020.