YouTube Outlines Its Plans to Protect the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election

Content from authoritative voices is ranked higher in search, watch next

Information panels will be added when people search for candidates SDI Productions/iStock
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YouTube provided an update on steps it is taking to safeguard its platform prior to the upcoming presidential election in the U.S.

Vice president of government affairs and public policy Leslie Miller said in a blog post that the Google-owned video site’s community guidelines prohibit deceptive practices.

Those include content that has been technically manipulated or doctored in such a way to mislead users, and that could post a risk of egregious harm, such as a video that was altered to make it appear that a government official is dead.

Content that aims to mislead people about the process of voting or participating in the U.S. Census, or that makes false claims about the eligibility of political candidates and elected officials to serve, is also covered, such as claims that someone is not eligible to hold office based on inaccurate information about their citizenship status.

Miller said channels will be terminated if they attempt to impersonate another person or channel, misrepresent their country of origin, conceal their association with a government actor or use automatic systems or other methods to artificially increase their number of views, likes, comments or other metrics.

YouTube formed an Intelligence Desk in 2018 to detect new trends related to inappropriate content and problematic behaviors and address them before they become larger issues, and Miller said it works closely with Google’s Threat Analysis Group to identify bad actors and remove their channels and accounts, as well as to share intelligence and best practices with other technology companies and to share threat information with law enforcement.

On the news front, Miller said content from authoritative voices is ranked higher in search results and watch next panels.

Miller said changes to YouTube’s recommendations in January 2019 resulted in a 70% drop in watch time for content that violated its community guidelines, and those changes will be expanded to non-English-language markets.

YouTube rolled out its Top News and Breaking News shelves in 2018 to highlight quality journalism, and information panels are included on videos from publishers that receive public or government funding.

During breaking news events, the video site provides short previews of text-based news articles in search results, as well as a reminder that developing news can rapidly change, and Miller said consumption of content from the YouTube channels of authoritative news partners rose 60% in 2019.

Information panels were also added when people searched for candidates on YouTube during the 2018 midterm elections in the U.S. and the 2019 Parliamentary elections in the European Union, providing information such as party affiliation, district and links to their official YouTube channels, and Miller said similar steps will be in place for this year’s vote.

Finally, she pointed to the features and resources that are available to politicians, commentators and news publishers, including support from YouTube’s partnerships team.

Miller concluded, “In addition to our work at YouTube to support elections, other teams at Google are also working hard ahead of Election Day—including by expanding our political advertising policies to provide users with even more visibility into who is buying election ads on YouTube, Google and partner properties. YouTube remains committed to maintaining the balance of openness and responsibility before, during and after the 2020 U.S. election. We’ll have even more to share on this work in the coming months.” David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.