At Google, user safety is a top priority when it comes to ads and monetized content on our platforms. Thousands of Googlers work around the clock to prevent malicious use of our advertising services and make them safer for people, businesses, and publishers. We understand that an ad-supported internet means access to essential information and diverse content at no cost.
In Africa, access to quality information has never been more important, especially since the covid pandemic. As people manage more of their lives online, their concerns over how personal data is gathered, used, and shared have grown. In the last five years, search interest in private browsing has increased by +60% in Nigeria, +30% in South Africa, and +110% in Kenya. 2022 was the year Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria searched most for private browsing since 2012.
Regulators across the world are demanding a more private internet, and businesses in Africa must acknowledge and respond to this shift in consumer behaviour. Nitin Gajria, Managing Director, Africa at Google, states, “At Google, we are committed to making the ad-supported web a safer and more private place for everyone in Africa. We believe that by giving people control over their data and investing in privacy-safe advertising, we can secure a future for the ad-supported web that benefits everyone.”
In light of the growing concern for privacy, Google has placed users at the centre of its work across every product. In October of last year, the company launched My Ad Center globally, allowing anyone to see and control how their data is used to show them ads on Search, Discover and YouTube. This allows users to choose to see less of the ads they don’t want to see (and if they want, more ads they’re interested in), creating a win-win situation for both users and advertisers. With less waste, more satisfied customers, and more effective campaigns, privacy-safe advertising is a win-win for everyone.
In addition to these efforts, Google also announced the Privacy Sandbox initiative, an initiative developed in partnership with the advertising industry that aims to create a more private internet. It is designed to reduce tracking across websites and apps, while still allowing for free access to online content and services. The initiative involves building new technology to protect personal information, providing alternative options for publishers and developers, and establishing new internet privacy standards. The Privacy Sandbox for the Web will phase out the use of third-party cookies and limit covert tracking. It will also provide safer alternatives for publishers to use to protect personal data and continue their digital business.
In 2021, we continued to evolve our policy development and enforcement strategies to stay ahead of potential threats. We introduced a multi-strike system for repeat policy violations and added or updated over 30 policies or restrictions for advertisers and publishers.
We also took action against malicious use of our platforms. In 2021, we removed over 3.4 billion ads, restricted over 5.7 billion ads, and suspended over 5.6 million advertiser accounts. We also blocked or restricted ads from serving on 1.7 billion publisher pages and took broader site-level enforcement action on approximately 63,000 publisher sites.
In addition to these efforts, we also introduced new tools and resources to help advertisers and publishers protect their brands and campaigns. This includes a new feature that allows brands to upload lists that can be automatically updated and maintained by trusted third parties. We also released several resources to help publishers moderate user generated content and made targeted improvements to the publisher approval process to better detect and block bad actors.
We are committed to keeping our platforms safe for users, advertisers, and publishers in Africa. Our continued investment in policy development, enforcement, and new technologies like the sandbox ensures that we can stay ahead of potential threats and maintain a safe and trustworthy environment for all. We will continue to work closely with regulators, industry partners, and user groups to ensure that our efforts align with their priorities and concerns, and we will continue to prioritise user trust and privacy in all of our decisions.