With the US midterms fast approaching, Google has today outlined how it’s looking to help connect Search and YouTube users with trustworthy information around the polls, and combat misinformation and manipulation efforts across its platforms.
First off, Google’s adding new election information guidance within related Google Search results to help connect voters with accurate information.
“In the coming weeks, when people search for “how to vote” in both English and Spanish they’ll find election information panels sourced from Democracy Works, a nonpartisan and nonprofit data provider, which works directly with state election administrators to aggregate information about how they can vote in their state, along with key dates and deadlines, and guidance for options like voting early, in-person or by mail. The information panels will also link to state government official websites, which provide more information.”
That’ll ensure that people can access accurate, up-to-date information about their local polls whenever they need, which could help to dispel misinformation and/or voter manipulation efforts.
Google’s also launching a new, localized news coverage feature, in order to help readers discover local and regional news from each state, so that they can better understand the election coverage of races they most care about.
Over on YouTube, users will now be served updated search results for midterm-related queries, with YouTube’s systems more prominently recommending content from authoritative national and local news sources, including PBS NewsHour, The Wall Street Journal, Univision and local ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates.
“This same approach goes for videos in your “watch next” panels. Working in tandem, our systems are also limiting the spread of harmful election misinformation by identifying borderline content and keeping it from being widely recommended.”
For searches specifically related to voting, a new information panel will direct users to Google’s ‘how to vote’ and ‘how to register to vote’ features.
YouTube’s also adding new info panels on candidate profiles and videos, which will present key information, including their political party and the office they’re running for.
On election day, YouTube will also showcase timely info about election results underneath videos and at the top of search results related to the midterms.
As you can see here, the alerts will also link to Google’s election results feature, where people will be able to track official election results in real-time.
In addition to this, Google will also be upping its efforts to remove election misinformation, and quash emerging threats, while it’s also launching a new digital literacy campaign, which will share tips on how to identify different types of manipulation tactics used to spread misinformation.
It’s a never-ending battle, with malicious actors switching up their tactics in response to every platform update, but with digital platforms now playing a key role in the dissemination of news and information, it’s important that all platforms look to do whatever they can to address such threats, and ensure fair and unbiased civic process.
Of course, such efforts will also be attacked by critics, who’ll claim that these reference resources are also biased, which negates the whole operation. But Google is working with recognized, endorsed third-party organizations to maximize its efforts, which should help to address concerns before they can have any major impact.