Author Archives: Laurie Richardson

Our ongoing work to support the 2022 U.S. midterm elections

In the last few months, voters have participated in elections around the world, including recently in France, Kenya, Colombia, Australia and primaries across the U.S. Our products and services have helped people find election information and protect the accounts of campaigns and election officials. We are continuing these efforts in Brazil, the U.S. general election and other elections globally.

Today, we’re sharing an update on our ongoing work related to the U.S. midterms. Our work is centered around connecting voters to the latest election information, helping campaigns and people working on elections improve their cybersecurity and protecting our users and platforms from abuse.

Making election information easily accessible

In the lead-up to elections, voters search for useful and relevant information to help them navigate the electoral process. That’s why we build features that show data from nonpartisan organizations to make it easier for people to get helpful election information.

As we’ve done for many previous elections, we’re rolling out features on Google Search to connect voters with accurate information about voter registration and how to vote. 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. And as with previous U.S. elections, we’re working with The Associated Press to present authoritative election results on Google.

Side by side image of searches for election information

We’re also making it easier to find authoritative news coverage on local elections from a range of sources. In addition to helping people find election news from their own communities, we're launching a new feature that will help readers discover local and regional news from different states so they can better understand the election coverage of races they most care about. The feature will be launched in the coming weeks.

Side by side images of local and regional news on a phone.

An example of how our new feature will show local and regional news from different states. Depending on the amount of coverage, readers may see a carousel or list of articles.

On YouTube, our systems are prominently recommending content from authoritative news sources, while limiting the spread of harmful election misinformation. We’ll also be showing relevant election information panels at the top of YouTube search results and underneath videos about the midterms to provide people with additional context about elections. Learn more about how YouTube is supporting the U.S. midterms here.

Supporting election security and training

Every election comes with increased cybersecurity risks. In fact, a recent survey shows that more than 41% of people working in politics and journalism had their digital accounts hacked or accessed without their permission in 2021. We understand this reality and are offering these high-risk users best-in-class security tools and resources.

To train and protect the security of people working on elections, we’ve been partnering with organizations like Defending Digital Campaigns, which has provided free security keys to over 300 national committees, state parties and political campaigns in all 50 states. To ensure the strongest account and site-level protections, we offer our free Advanced Protection Program and free Project Shield service to safeguard against digital attacks. Through our Campaign Security Project, we’ve teamed up with organizations across the political spectrum to train over 4,000 campaign and election officials on security best practices, including products and tools they can use to stay safe online.

Additionally, the Google News Initiative has continued to support a number of election-related trainings for journalists and newsrooms on identifying and combating misinformation. This year, in a partnership with the National Association of Black Journalists, we are helping to train over 700 journalists from publications across the country by the end of 2022. And we're working with Poynter to provide additional tools and resources for hundreds of Spanish-speaking reporters and other news outlets as they prepare to cover the midterms.

Protecting our users and platforms

Preventing abuse on our platforms — such as account hijackings, phishing attempts or orchestrated disinformation campaigns — is always a top priority, especially during sensitive times like elections. Our Trust and Safety teams and Threat Analysis Group are working around the clock to monitor and stop these kinds of digital threats, and we’ve continued to make significant investments in our global operations to ensure our products remain safe and secure.

We also have longstanding policies that prohibit election-related abuse on our platforms. This continues to include policies to combat the spread of election misinformation and demonstrably false claims that could significantly undermine participation or trust in the electoral process, such as false information about polling locations, means of voting, candidate eligibility or election results. As always, we will continue to apply these policies in a neutral and apolitical way.

When it comes to election advertising, we want to make sure voters have confidence in the ads content they may see on our platforms. That's why we require all advertisers to complete averification process and enforce strict ads policies, such as limiting the way advertisers can target election ads. We've also made significant investments in enhancing transparency around election advertising. In fact, earlier this year we updated our Political Ads Transparency Report, creating a new user interface and adding new tools for accessing and filtering information about targeting, location and formats for specific election ads and advertisers. The new report also includes a more granular breakdown of advertiser data — giving users and researchers greater insight into ad spending and impressions based on the latest Congressional redistricting information. And globally, we’re expanding our election ads verification policies and transparency tools to more countries, including Argentina and Brazil.

Side by side examples of ad information

We’re committed to helping people navigate the electoral process around the world, and we will continue to share updates about our ongoing work.

How we’re supporting the 2022 U.S. midterm elections

In 2022, voters will be heading to the polls in many countries around the world. We are committed to helping them find the latest election information on our services, equipping campaigns and election workers with the best-in-class security tools, and protecting our platforms from abuse.

This work builds on our longstanding support of elections across the globe, including most recently in Japan, Germany, Canada, and South Korea. And we are continuing these efforts in Australia, Brazil, France, the Philippines, and elsewhere to help people navigate the democratic process.

Today, we are providing an update on our work to support the 2022 U.S. midterm elections.

Connecting voters to election information

Whether you’re registering to vote for the first time, looking for your local polling place, or learning how to vote absentee, we make reliable information easily available with helpful product features that show data from trusted, nonpartisan organizations.

  • Google Search: We’re partnering with Ballotpedia, a digital encyclopedia for federal, state, and local politics and elections in the U.S., to help voters quickly find authoritative information about upcoming elections on Google Search. In the coming weeks, when people search for queries like “when are the Ohio primaries,” we’ll show statewide primary election dates right at the top of Search results.
  • YouTube: Our systems prominently surface authoritative voices such as news sources in search results and “watch next” panels for election-related news and information, while at the same time limiting the spread of election misinformation.
  • Supporting developers: The Google Civic Information API makes it easier for third-party developers to create useful applications to connect users with official election information sourced from the nonpartisan Voting Information Project, a partnership between Democracy Works and state and local election administrators.

Helping campaigns enhance their security

People working on campaigns and elections are higher targets for cybersecurity threats. In a recent study we commissioned with YouGov, 85% of high-risk professionals working in politics and journalism in the U.S. say they need stronger cybersecurity protections, while 83% feel cyber threats against their professions have increased in the last two years alone. We understand these concerns and are working hard to help high-risk users, such as campaigns and election officials, enhance their security and educate them on how to use our products and services.

  • Security tools for campaign and election workers: We’re continuing our partnership with organizations like Defending Digital Campaigns (DDC) to provide qualifying U.S. federal campaigns with free Titan Security Keys—distributing over 10,500 keys to date. To ensure the strongest form of account security against targeted online attacks for both personal and Google Workspace accounts, we’re enrolling high-risk users in our free Advanced Protection Program. And our free service Project Shield provides unlimited protection against Distributed Denial of Service attacks for election monitoring sites and political organizations.
  • More protection for high-risk users: To train candidates and campaign workers on how to stay safe online, last month we launched the Campaign Security Project by teaming up with organizations across the political spectrum. This initiative builds on our ongoing work with the USC Election Cybersecurity Initiative, Cybersecurity for State Leaders, and DDC. And globally, to help enhance the security of campaigns and affiliated high-risk users, we’re working with organizations like the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.
  • Helpful resources for campaigns: To help campaigns and civic groups learn how to effectively use our products and services—like claiming knowledge panels on Google Search and getting verified on YouTube—we offer a range of free tools and resources on our Google Civics Training Center.

Protecting our platforms from abuse

Over the years, we’ve introduced new policies, enhanced our enforcement systems, and continued to invest in our teams and operations to better secure our products and prevent abuse on our platforms.

  • Tackling threats: We constantly monitor and disrupt account hijackings, inauthentic activity, coordinated influence operations, and other forms of abuse on our platforms—providing quarterly updates and meeting regularly with government officials and other technology companies to share threat information around suspected election interference.
  • Election policies: We have strict policies prohibiting election-related abuse on our products and services, such as demonstrably false claims about polling hours or ballot eligibility. For example, YouTube’s Community Guidelines don’t allow videos that mislead viewers on how to vote or encourage interference in the democratic process. And it has established elections misinformation policies that prohibit, for example, content that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches changed the outcome of any past U.S. presidential election. As always, we will continue to enforce our policies in a neutral and apolitical manner.
  • Political Ads: We require all advertisers who wish to runelection ads on our platforms to go through a verification process and have an in-ad disclosure that clearly shows who paid for the ad. These ads are also compiled in our Political Advertising Transparency Report where anyone can look up information about any given election ad. And in the coming months, we will launch an updated version of our report, featuring a new user-interface and tools for accessing and sorting information about election ads and advertisers. This update will include a more granular breakdown of advertiser data—giving users greater insight into ad spending and impressions—as well as new visualization features for filtering data around targeting, location, and ad formats.

    We also enforce strict ads policies, such as limiting the way advertisers can target election ads and prohibiting demonstrably false claims that could significantly undermine trust in elections. We apply these policies consistently to every advertiser.

We will continue to provide updates on our work to support the 2022 U.S. midterm elections and other elections around the world in the months ahead.