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How YouTube responsibly supports elections and civic engagement

2024 is the biggest election year in history, with more than half the world living in countries that will host a nationwide vote. With users around the world coming to YouTube for news and information about their civic duty, from voter registration to the location of their nearest polling place, we have a responsibility to support an informed citizenry and foster healthy political discourse. To deliver on this responsibility, we remove content that violates our community guidelines, including election content, raise high-quality election news and information from authoritative sources in search results and recommendations, reduce the spread of harmful election misinformation and reward trusted creators via the YouTube Partner Programme. Our policies apply to everyone and are enforced with consistency, regardless of the political viewpoints expressed, the language the content is in, or how the content is generated.

Supporting political integrity

How does YouTube remove policy-violating election-related content?

YouTube's community guidelines provide clear guidance on what is not allowed on our platform, and we remove content that violates these policies.

Policies specific to elections misinformation include:

  • Voter suppression – Prohibits content aiming to mislead voters about the time, place, means or eligibility requirements for voting, or false claims that could materially discourage voting, e.g. a video telling viewers that they can vote through fake methods like texting their vote to a particular number.

  • Candidate eligibility – Prohibits content that advances false claims related to the technical eligibility requirements for current political candidates and sitting elected government officials to serve in office. Eligibility requirements considered are based on applicable national law and include age, citizenship or vital status.

  • Incitement to interfere with democratic processes – Prohibits content encouraging others to interfere with democratic processes. This includes obstructing or interrupting voting procedures.

Community guidelines that apply to all forms of content, including elections, include:

  • Harassment policy – Content that threatens individuals such as election workers, candidates or voters isn't allowed under our Harassment and cyberbullying policies.

  • Hate speech policy – Content that promotes violence or hatred against individuals or groups based on certain attributes isn't allowed under our Hate speech policies. This includes, for example, content that shows a political rally attendee dehumanising a group based on a protected attribute, such as race, religion or sexual orientation.

  • Manipulated content – Prohibits content that has been technically manipulated or doctored in a way that misleads users (usually beyond clips taken out of context) and may pose a serious risk of egregious harm. For example, footage that has been technically manipulated to make a candidate for public office falsely claim that they are dropping out of the race.

  • Misattributed content – Content that may pose a serious risk of egregious harm by falsely claiming that old footage from a past event is from a current event isn't allowed under our Misinformation policies. For example, a video that shows a head of state condoning a violent conflict that he or she never actually condoned.

  • Violent or graphic content policy – Content that encourages others to commit violent acts, including acts targeting election workers, candidates or voters, isn't allowed under our Violent or graphic content policies.

  • Impersonation policy – Content that's intended to impersonate a person or channel, such as a political candidate or their political party, isn't allowed under our Impersonation policy.

  • Spam, deceptive practices and scams policies – Prohibits misleading content meant to take advantage of YouTube users.

  • External links policy – Content that contains external links to material that would violate our policies and could cause a serious risk of egregious harm, like misleading or deceptive content relating to an election, hate speech targeting protected groups, or harassment targeting election workers, candidates or voters. This can include clickable URLs, verbally directing users to other sites in a video and other forms of link sharing.

Sometimes, videos that might otherwise violate our policies may stay on YouTube if the content contains educational, documentary, scientific or artistic (EDSA) context.

To help determine whether a video might qualify for an EDSA exception, we look at multiple factors, including the video title, descriptions, and the context provided in the video's audio or imagery. For example, something that is more likely to get an EDSA exception is content where an individual makes a false claim that individuals who are older than a certain age aren't allowed to vote in a democratic election and also clarifies in the video, audio, title or description that this claim is false.

Addressing AI-generated election misinformation

Challenges posed by generative AI have been an ongoing area of focus for YouTube, but we know that AI introduces new risks that bad actors may try to exploit during an election. AI can be used to generate content that has the potential to mislead viewers – particularly if they're unaware that the video has been altered or is synthetically created. To better address this concern and inform viewers when the content they're watching is altered or synthetic, we'll start to introduce the following updates:

  • Creator disclosure: Creators will be required to disclose when they've created altered or synthetic content that's realistic, including using AI tools. This will include election content.

  • Labelling: We'll label realistic altered or synthetic election content that doesn't violate our policies to clearly indicate to viewers that some of the content was altered or synthetic. For elections, this label will be displayed in both the video player and the video description, and will surface regardless of the creator, political viewpoints or language.

Mock showing label added to the video player and description panel.

Getting ahead of emerging issues

Removing policy-violative content as quickly as possible requires that we are aware of emerging threats in addition to content that we already prohibit. To help stay ahead of emerging issues before they reach or become widespread on our platform, we have developed extensive processes to give our teams visibility into this area.

In 2018, we formed an Intelligence Desk, an internal team that monitors and detects new trends surrounding inappropriate content and problematic behaviours, to help address them early.

Additionally, we work closely with Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG) to identify coordinated influence operations on YouTube and terminate their channels and accounts. This includes government-backed hacking looking to interfere in electoral processes. Through TAG, we share intelligence, best practices and threat information with law enforcement and industry partners. TAG discloses in their monthly bulletin information about coordinated influence operation campaigns terminated on Google platforms, including YouTube.

How does YouTube raise election information from authoritative sources?

For news and information topics such as elections and civic engagement, accuracy and authoritativeness are key. This is why we incorporated the notion of 'authoritativeness' in our recommendation system. When users search for or watch election content on YouTube, our recommendation system prominently surfaces authoritative content in search results, the homepage and 'Watch next' panel.

We use a number of signals to determine authoritativeness, including the relevance and freshness of the content, as well as the expertise of the source, to determine what content you see in our officially labelled news surfaces. Additionally, we use external raters and experts to provide critical input and guidance on the accuracy of videos. These evaluators hail from around the world and are trained through a set of detailed, publicly available rating guidelines .

News features help raise election-related news from authoritative sources

Availability depending on geographical region

Product features that help raise news from authoritative sources across YouTube include:

A watch page for news content on YouTube

*Mock display. For illustration purposes only

To help viewers explore different sides of a news story and form their own opinion of the world, we launched a watch page that brings together a collection of news content from authoritative and diverse sources on YouTube.

Breaking news on the homepage

When a major breaking news event happens, we want to make sure that viewers are aware and can easily access authoritative information. In those cases, the Breaking News shelf appears directly on the homepage. It features relevant videos from authoritative news sources about news events of national importance.

*Mock display. For illustration purposes only.

Top news in search results

When viewers proactively search for news-related topics, they will often see a Top news section near the top of the search results, which displays relevant results from authoritative sources.

*Mock display. For illustration purposes only.

Top news on the homepage

When viewers proactively search for news-related topics, they will often see a Top news section near the top of the homepage, which displays relevant results from authoritative sources.

*Mock display. For illustration purposes only.

Informational panels provide users with additional context to help them make informed decisions about content on our platform

Developing news information panel

In developing news situations, links to text-based news articles from authoritative sources may be displayed above relevant search results, as quality video may not be immediately available.

*Mock display. For illustration purposes only.

Publisher funding information panel

To provide more context about news sources, funding information may be displayed for government or publicly funded publishers.

*Images, headlines and sources are simulated in order to illustrate this feature.

Topical context information panel

To provide more context about topics prone to misinformation, such as voting by mail, an information panel may be displayed at the top of the search results or under a video to show basic background info sourced from authoritative sources

*Images, headlines and sources are simulated in order to illustrate this feature.

During key civics and elections moments, we make additional efforts to raise information from authoritative sources

In addition to our always-on product features that raise information from authoritative sources on our platform, we may launch additional features during key civics and election moments.

Candidate information panels

For some elections, additional information, like party affiliation, may be provided for all federal candidates. In addition, candidates with an official YouTube channel may have their channel pinned for those specific elections.

Our candidates for head of state are eligible to receive the enlarged card on the right.

*Images, headlines and sources are simulated in order to illustrate this feature.

Voting information panels

When viewers search for voting-related topics, links to authoritative information on 'how to register to vote' and 'how to vote' may be displayed, pointing to authoritative sources powered by non-partisan, third-party data partners like Democracy Works.

*Images, headlines and sources are simulated in order to illustrate this feature.

Elections results information panels

When viewers search for election results or watch any videos related to the elections, a link to Google's 'Election Results' feature, powered by authoritative third parties, like the Associated Press, may be displayed.

*Images, headlines and sources are simulated in order to illustrate this feature.

Voter reminders

Throughout the election cycle, we may provide viewers links to timely, authoritative information about the voting process directly on the homepage, such as 'how to register to vote', 'how to vote' and 'how to volunteer to be a poll worker'.

*Mock display. For illustration purposes only.

How does YouTube reward and support creators – including news and political creators, and candidates across the political spectrum?

Our business is unique among platforms because for over 15 years, we have had a revenue-sharing model, the YouTube Partner Programme (YPP), and we send checks to eligible creators every month.

We view monetisation on our platform as a privilege. Creators must be accepted into YPP to be eligible to monetise their content.

A key eligibility requirement for YPP is to follow YouTube monetisation policies, which include our community guidelines, Terms of Service, and Google AdSense programme policies. These policies apply to a creator's channel as a whole, not just to individual videos. And we review each applicant's channel before approving.

Over the past few years, we've taken steps to strengthen the requirements for monetisation so that spammers, impersonators and other bad actors can't hurt the system or take advantage of creators meeting our eligibility requirements.

Because of this unique model, we have a natural, long-term incentive to live up to our responsibility. Advertisers, viewers, creators and media partners do not want to be associated with harmful content.

The YouTube Partner Programme supports political creators and candidates

Through the YouTube Partner Programme, creators – including news and political creators, and candidates across the political spectrum – can access a greater suite of YouTube features and resources, helping them to more effectively reach viewers, deepen connections with their audience, and sustain and protect their business or platforms. These include:

Dedicated Partnerships Team – Dedicated Strategic Partner Managers work across the political spectrum to optimise presence on YouTube, reach viewers and engage with their community.

Revenue opportunities – Alternative monetisation features help candidates sustain their platform.

Political advertising on YouTube

We have a number of different policies in place for different types of content across Google and YouTube that can relate to political advertising. We enforce all of these guidelines consistently and without regard to a video's political viewpoint. You can find political ads shown through Google via our Political Ads Transparency Report.

Google Ads policies and YouTube policies work together to ensure a safe, positive experience for our users, creators and advertisers

Google has a number of policies to support a healthy digital advertising ecosystem, including political content. These policies govern the content that is shown in advertisements across Google, which includes YouTube. More information on these policies can be found here.

Posting either an ad or content on YouTube will define which policies apply

As part of Google, all advertising on YouTube must comply with Google's advertising policies. In addition, YouTube has monetisation policies that govern what content can be monetised by creators. Put another way, these policies govern which content these ads can run against. One example of content that will result in a 'limited or no ads' state is content that focuses on shaming an individual or group or that makes personal attacks, slander or defamation.

The distinct policies from Google and YouTube work together to ensure a safe and positive experience for our users, creators and advertisers.

Ads on YouTube Content on YouTube
Google Ads policies
YT community guidelines
YT monetisation policies

Tools and resources

From the YT blog

On the 2024 election:

On our recent election integrity policy update:

On the 2022 midterms:

On the 2020 election: