Australians will soon vote in the national referendum on a proposal to enshrine an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice in the Australian Constitution. On top of measures already in place, Google is rolling out additional features to help people participate and stay informed, support the integrity of the voting process, and help campaigns manage their digital presence. Here are some ways we’ll be providing further support:
Connecting voters to helpful and authoritative information
We know that in the lead up to the referendum, Australians need helpful and authoritative information to help them navigate the referendum process. The Federal Government has committed to a civics and awareness campaign that will continue providing authoritative information about the Voice. With millions of Australians using Google products each month, we are working with the Australian Electoral Commission to surface official information on our platforms (including Search and YouTube) about enrolment and voting, to help ensure all Australians can have their say closer to the referendum day. This includes information about the referendum and how to vote, and prompts to go and vote on referendum day.
Helping voters better understand the political advertising they see
We’re constantly exploring new ways to support Australians and the integrity of our democratic processes. Google’s election ads policies apply to any advertiser running ads related to the referendum. To give Australians more information about paid election ads they see across Google’s platforms, we require that any ad which mentions a political party, candidate or current officeholder for the House of Representatives or the Senate, is included in our political advertising transparency report, and that the advertiser is verified. We recently expanded our Political Content policy to extend advertiser verification requirements, in-ad disclosures, and transparency report inclusion for ads that feature or refer to a referendum.
Google expanded its political content policy so that referendum ads appear in its Political Advertising Transparency Report - along with verification requirements and in-ad disclosures.
Tackling misinformation and protecting information online
Google has a long history of partnering with governments, organisations, industry and community to tackle misinformation and disinformation. We're working with the different Voice campaign groups, electoral bodies and civil society groups to help everyone understand digital best practices and their responsibilities through Google Ad policies and YouTube Community Guidelines. We have policies which prohibit certain types of misinformation—including elections misinformation—on YouTube. Using a combination of machine learning and people, we remove violative content quickly and raise up authoritative sources. You can find more information about YouTube’s approach to misinformation here and here. People can report content they believe violates our policies, including on advertising and misinformation. Legal complaints should be lodged at g.co/legal.
To further help tackle misinformation and strengthen fact-checking capabilities, the Google News Lab is working alongside Australian news organisations and associations in many ways. One action we’re taking is collaborating with Australian Associated Press (AAP) to provide and distribute fact-checks to the 300 Australian news publishers that subscribe to its service. Helping to ensure Indigenous journalists’ experiences are included in reporting has also guided our partnership with AAP, which is why we’re supporting the placement of two Indigenous trainees in their newsrooms.
More information about how Google is supporting democratic processes around the world is available here.