Our commitments

How does YouTube support civic engagement and stay secure, impartial, and fair during elections?

With so many users around the world coming to YouTube to learn about political leaders, participate in civic engagement, and develop informed opinions about current events, we have a responsibility to support an informed citizenry and foster healthy political discourse. To deliver on this responsibility, we remove policy-violative content, raise authoritative news sources, reduce the spread of election-related misinformation, and provide a range of resources for civics partners such as government officials, candidates, civics organizations, and political Creators to ensure a broad range of voices are heard.

Supporting political integrity

How does YouTube remove policy violative election-related content?

Our Community Guidelines provide clear guidance on content that is not allowed on YouTube, including established policies prohibiting hate speech, harassment, deceptive practices, and incitement to violence. Our policies include election-related content, and we enforce these policies consistently, regardless of who creates it. We use a combination of people and machine learning to detect potentially problematic content at scale, and when we identify such content, human review verifies whether it violates our policies. If it does, the content is removed and is used to train our machines for better coverage in the future.

Here are some examples of where our established deceptive practices policies apply to election-related content:

  • Content that has been 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; for example, a video that has been technically manipulated to make it appear that a government official is dead.

  • Content that aims to mislead people about voting or the census processes, like telling viewers an incorrect voting date.

  • Content that advances false claims related to the technical eligibility requirements for current political candidates and sitting elected officials to serve in office, such as false claims that a candidate is not eligible to hold office based on false information about citizenship status requirements to hold office in that country.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Additionally, we terminate channels that:

  • Attempt to impersonate another person or channel, misrepresent their country of origin, or conceal their association with a government actor.

  • Artificially increase the number of views, likes, comments, or other metrics either through the use of automatic systems or by serving up videos to unsuspecting viewers.

Content providing sufficient educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic context is allowed on YouTube. As always, we enforce our policies consistently, without regard to a video’s political viewpoint.

How does YouTube combat foreign interference in electoral processes?

To combat foreign and domestic coordinated influence operations looking to interfere in electoral processes, we coordinate closely with Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) to identify bad actors and terminate their channels and accounts. Through TAG, we work with other technology companies to share intelligence and best practices, and share threat information with law enforcement.

How does YouTube give viewers access to authoritative election-related news and information?

Political news and events can be subject to misinformation, so the availability of quality information sources is crucial. That’s why we raise up authoritative voices, including news sources like CNN and Fox News, for news and information in search results and “Up next” panels. Additionally, we have a number of product features that help highlight content across our platform, including Top News and Breaking News shelves to highlight quality journalism, as well as information panels that indicate funding sources below videos from publishers that receive public or government funding. We have also expanded our fact check information panels to the United States. This feature provides context from third-party fact-checked articles above search results for relevant queries—including specific claims about the election.

Additionally, we show information panels linking to third-party sources around a small number of well-established topics that are subject to misinformation, and that now includes voting by mail. This means that under videos that discuss voting by mail, you’ll see an information panel directing you to authoritative information from the Bipartisan Policy Center, a bipartisan third-party think tank.

In addition to our always-on product features that raise information from authoritative sources on our platform, we take additional efforts during key civics and election moments. For instance, when there are major live moments -- like the State of the Union, election debates and presidential inaugurations -- we work to make these streams easily accessible to a wide audience on our platform.

For the 2020 U.S. elections, when you search for a presidential or federal Congressional candidate on YouTube, we will show a candidate information panel with additional information about that candidate—for example, party affiliation and office—above search results. We also highlight the official YouTube channels of candidates when available.

Election news and information
Election news and information

Candidate information panels: link to authoritative third-party information about candidates

Additionally, when you search for specific queries related to voter registration on YouTube you will see a voting information panel at the top of the page directing you to Google’s “How to register to vote” feature for your state. Information relating to how to register to vote includes details such as deadlines, registration options, and an easy way to check the status of your registration.

You will also see a voting information panel at the top of results when you search on YouTube for specific queries related to how to vote, directing to Google’s “How to vote” feature. This tool includes authoritative information about how to vote in your state, including details such as ID requirements, registration and voting deadlines, and guidance for different means of voting, such as in person or by mail.

Google works with non-partisan, third-party data partners such as Democracy Works, which aggregate official data directly from state and county election administrators, and links to your state government’s official website for more information.

Election news and information
Election news and information

Voting information panel: links to authoritative third-party details about how to vote or how to register to vote

For the 2020 U.S. Elections, we launched a new election results information panel at the top of search results for a broad range of queries related to the election and under videos that discuss the election. This information panel notes that election results may not be final and links to Google’s election results feature, which enables you to track election results in real time. As in previous years and the 2020 primaries, Google works with The Associated Press to provide authoritative election results.

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Election results information panel: links to latest election results on Google

For the latest updates, please see the YouTube blog.

What YouTube tools and resources are available to civics partners such as government officials, candidates, civics organizations, and political Creators?

YouTube has a range of tools and resources to help civics partners build their brands and connect with constituents. We’ve created a series of guides to get them started.

  • Global Getting Started Guide for Civics - Discover a set of best practices and examples for civic partners to build their channel from the ground up, including sections on branding, content planning, content creation, and content discovery.

  • Live Streaming Guide for Civics - Learn how civic partners are able to communicate effectively with their community live on YouTube, including details about hosting live events, press conferences, and real-time interactions with audiences - and explore hardware and software options to help them make the most of their live streams.

How does YouTube treat political advertising?

Given the importance of shared trust in the democratic process, we want to improve voters' confidence in the political ads they may see on our ad platforms. We enforce all of our guidelines consistently and without regard to a video’s political viewpoint.

Ads running on YouTube are subject to Google Ads policies, content that lives on our platform are subject to YouTube Community Guidelines, and channels that are part of the YouTube Partner Program are subject to YouTube Monetization policies. So a video uploaded to a YouTube channel by a Creator is subject to our Community Guidelines, but if that same video is promoted as an ad, it’s further subject to Google Ad policies.

Google’s ads policies govern ads that run on YouTube. We don’t allow granular microtargeting (including non-political ads). Verified US political advertisers can only target election ads on age, gender, location (e.g. postal code), and context (e.g. topics). Clear disclosures are required for all election ads to help you better understand who is paying for them - data which is publicly available in our Transparency Report. We use both automated and human reviewers to check our policies are being followed.

YouTube’s Community Guidelines specify what content is allowed and not allowed on YouTube, and we have policies that have been specifically created for elections. Policies that directly relate to elections include:

  • Voter suppression
  • Suppression of census participation
  • False candidate eligibility claims
  • Impersonation
  • Hate and harassment
  • Spam, deceptive practices, and scams

YouTube’s Monetization policies apply to creators who are part of the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) and have the ability to run ads and adopt other monetization products to earn money for their channel. Participating channels have to meet eligibility requirements as well as follow our monetization policies and advertiser friendly content guidelines. Failure to do so means limited or no ads will appear against content.

How does YouTube treat ads with political content in different parts of the world?

Political Creators interested in becoming verified to run ads with political content will need to learn more about political advertising requirements in your country.