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An update on how YouTube supports elections

How we make YouTube a more reliable source for election-related news and information, as well as an open platform for healthy political discourse.

As Election Day approaches, you’re turning to YouTube to get the latest election news, learn more about candidates, and freshen up your knowledge on the democratic process. Back in February, we provided an overview of how, over the last few years, we worked to make YouTube a more reliable source for authoritative information. And we’re continuing to build upon those priorities. Here’s an update on the work we’re doing behind the scenes.

Remove election-related content that violates our policies

Our Community Guidelines set the rules of the road and we’re often reviewing and updating them, to make sure they continue to provide the appropriate protections for the YouTube community. These policies prohibit hate speech, harassment, and deceptive practices, including content that aims to mislead people about voting or videos that are technically manipulated or doctored in a way that misleads users (beyond clips taken out of context) and may pose a serious risk of egregious harm. We always enforce our policies consistently without regard to political viewpoints and do allow exceptions for content with sufficient educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic (EDSA) value.

Other timely examples include: 

  • Removing content that contains hacked information, the disclosure of which may interfere with democratic processes, such as elections and censuses. For example, videos that contain hacked information about a political candidate shared with the intent to interfere in an election.

  • Removing content encouraging others to interfere with democratic processes, such as obstructing or interrupting voting procedures. For example, telling viewers to create long voting lines with the purpose of making it harder for others to vote.

We continue to stay vigilant and coordinate closely with Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) to identify and remove the channels and accounts of bad actors engaged in foreign and domestic coordinated influence operations. TAG provides regular updates on actions taken against these operations, in its quarterly bulletin.

Help you access authoritative election content from home

As you spend more time online due to COVID-19, YouTube is a destination with a front seat for major election events. This year, most of the Democratic & Republican National Conventions will be conducted virtually. Like we have in the past, YouTube will live stream both conventions and you can follow the coverage on the YouTube channels of major news providers. Other key moments, like the debates and election results, will also be widely available on YouTube. Our work to help you easily access authoritative voting-related information on YouTube continues, and we'll continue to share updates.

Additionally, we’re continuing to raise up authoritative voices and reduce the spread of harmful misinformation and borderline content, including for election-related news and information. One of the many ways we do this is through our information panels, which provide further context underneath videos and in search results, so you can make your own informed decisions. For example:

  • In the coming weeks, when you search for 2020 presidential or federal candidates on YouTube, we’ll surface an information panel with information about that candidate—including party affiliation, office and, when available, the official YouTube channel of the candidate—above search results.

  • Earlier this year, we expanded our fact check information panels to the United States. This feature expands upon the other ways we raise and connect you with authoritative sources, by providing fresh context from third-party fact-checked articles above search results for relevant queries—including specific claims about the election.

Candidate info panels

Equip campaigns, candidates, and political creators to show up on YouTube

Throughout this election season, we’ve seen candidates and campaigns use YouTube to directly speak to and hear from a diverse set of communities. They’ve hosted town halls, sat down for in-depth interviews with creators, and created videos explaining how they’ll address America’s most pressing issues. To do this, they’ve used a range of YouTube’s features such as:

  • Cards and end screens, to encourage action beyond YouTube, including links to approved crowdfunding sites—which now include ActBlue and WinRed.

  • Live streaming, to hold events such as roundtables and press conferences, allowing for substantive discussions directly with the audience, in real time.

  • Stories and Community, to interact with voters and continue the conversation, even after an official campaign event.

To help navigate these features and ensure they’re using YouTube effectively, candidates and campaigns across the political spectrum receive support from our partnerships team.

At YouTube, we strive to be a place where a broad range of voices can be heard. This is particularly important when we come together in the democratic process, which is why our teams at Google and YouTube are working around the clock to ensure we maintain the important balance of openness and responsibility. You can read more about the work Google is doing here, such as the expansion of our political ads policies to prohibit ads that disseminate illegally obtained materials. Our work allows us to provide access to helpful, authoritative information, prevent abuse of our systems, and enable connections with creators from a myriad of viewpoints and will continue well beyond the next Election Day.