How Google, YouTube are Fighting Fake News on Martial Law, Elections

Big tech has an important role to play.
Photo/s: Courtesy of Youtube, Google

Google said Tuesday it was working to highlight "authoritative" information on its platforms, particularly YouTube, as it cracks down on misinformation on the May 9 Philippine elections.

YouTube in particular said it was launching new features  to connect voters to information on candidates and voter guides while working to remove "harmful" information such as those that deny "well-documented violent events" such as Martial Law.

“Our work is ongoing and we are committed to making YouTube a vibrant and safe community for a healthy political discourse as well as help protect the integrity of elections," YouTube Vice President of YouTube Product Management Emily Moxley said of the election information panels. 

Applying lessons from the November 2020 U.S. elections, YouTube said its updated community guidelines prohibit content that: 

  • Misleads voters about the time, place, means, or eligibility requirements for voting, or false claims that could materially discourage voting
  • Advances false claims related to the technical eligibility requirements for current political candidates and sitting elected government officials to serve in office
  • Encourages others to interfere with democratic processes
  • Contains hacked information, the disclosure of which may interfere with democratic processes
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'Major conduit of fake news' 

In recent years, U.S. tech giants have repeatedly come under fire for their supposed contributions to the decay of democracy across the world, as their platforms become breeding grounds for hate online, setting the stage for the rise of authoritarians and dictators. 

In January, YouTube in particular was described as a "major conduit of online disinformation" by a global coalition of factchecking organizations, faulted for the continued spread of falsehoods on the platform that is largely because of gaps in its existing content moderation practices.

YouTube said it was continuing to improve on its "systematic process" to curb harmful information, noting how from February 2021 to January 2022, it removed over 400,000 videos found to have violated its community guidelines in the Philippines, where it currently has over 45 million viewers aged 18 and above.

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If those viewers were all unique and registered to vote this May, they make up over 67% of the country's current voting population at roughly 67 million.

Apart from its platform-specific features, Google said it has more projects at Google News Lab, wherein a "whole of society" approach is being employed in coming up with projects and partnerships for the fight against false news. 

Currently, Google said it was backing fact-checking initiatives like #FactsFirstPH and Tsek.PH, as well as media literacy projects organized by the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication and the ASEAN Foundation

“Fighting misinformation is important to Google and it takes the whole of society working together to address it. We will continue to forge meaningful partnerships with the media and community groups to help people access the right information so they can make an informed vote in the upcoming elections,” said Irene Jay Liu, Google APAC News Lab Lead.

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