In May 2019, up to 350 million voters across the European Union will take to the polls to elect 705 Members of European Parliament (MEPs). To support this democratic process, we’re rolling out products and programs to help people get the information they need to cast their votes. Here are three ways we’ll be providing support:
Getting voters the information they need
We know that in the build-up to elections, people need useful and relevant information to help them navigate the electoral process. You may have come across Google’s Search tools for past elections in countries like Germany and around the world, where we highlighted information that helped people understand and participate in those elections. For the EU Parliamentary elections in 2019, we’ll be working with data from Election Commissions across the member states to make authoritative electoral information available and help people find the info they need to get out and vote.
Helping voters better understand the political advertising they see
To bring people more information about the election ads they see across Google’s ad networks, we’ll require that ads that mention a political party, candidate or current officeholder make it clear to voters who’s paying for the advertising. We’ll also introduce a new process to verify EU election advertisers to make sure they are who they say they are. And there’s more to come: we’ll introduce an EU-specific Election Ads Transparency Report and searchable ad library to provide more information about who is purchasing election ads, whom they’re targeted to, and how much money is being spent. Our goal is to make this information as accessible and useful as possible to citizens, practitioners, and researchers.
Protecting election information online
In addition to new political advertising transparency tools, we’re continuing our critical investments in keeping our own platforms secure and are working with campaigns, elections officials, journalists, human rights organizations and others across the EU to ensure the security of the online platforms that they depend on.
For the EU 2019 Parliamentary elections, we’re offering in-person security training to the most vulnerable groups, who face increased risks of phishing attacks. We’ll be walking them through Google’s Advanced Protection Program, our strongest level of account security and Project Shield, a free service that uses Google technology to protect news sites and free expression from DDoS attacks on the web.
And because people rely on quality news content to navigate noisy election periods, Google News Lab will collaborate with news organizations across all 27 countries to support online fact checking. They’ll be offering a series of free verification workshops to point journalists to the latest tools and technology to tackle disinformation and support their coverage of the elections.
Like others, we’re thinking hard about elections and how we continue to support democratic processes around the world, including by bringing more transparency to political advertising online, by helping connect people to useful and relevant election-related information, and by working to protect election information online. Over the coming months you’ll hear more from us on each of these areas and our plans to inform, protect and support around the EU elections, building on our commitments made in the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation.