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Safety & Security

Supporting the 2020 U.S. election

The 2020 election season officially kicks off with the Iowa caucuses today. Building on our work to support the operations and security of the 2020 U.S. Census, we’re sharing more about what we’re doing to tackle abuse on our platforms, equip campaigns, and help voters. 

Tackling threats and abuse

Our Trust and Safety teams span the globe to monitor and disrupt account hijackings, inauthentic activity, disinformation campaigns, coordinated attacks, and other forms of abuse on our platforms on a 24/7 basis. We take seriously our responsibility to protect our users from harm and abuse, especially during elections. 

That’s why we’ve developed policies that prohibit deceptive practices and abuse such as voter suppression and misrepresentation in our products, including Google Ads, YouTube or Google Play. For example, Google Play has implemented new policies to mitigate misleading claims and promote transparency about the sources of government information including voting information communicated through apps. We work together with Jigsaw to advance research on “deep fake” detection—and protect the accounts of users and campaigns that are targeted by hacking or phishing. Every day, Gmail blocks more than 100 million phishing emails and Google Safe Browsing helps protect more than 4 billion devices against dangerous sites. 

As part of our ongoing efforts to counter interference on our platforms, we work closely with other technology companies and government agencies, such as the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force, on referrals and leads. Alongside my colleagues at Google’s Threat Analysis Group, and at YouTube, we work closely to identify bad actors, disable their accounts, warn our users about them, and share relevant information with industry officials and law enforcement. We will continue to provide updates with findings around state-sponsored phishing attacks, coordinated influence operations, and disinformation campaigns. 

Equipping campaigns

As we approach November’s election, we’ll continue to educate campaigns and elected officials on how they can effectively use Google and YouTube products to reach voters. Candidates can claim their knowledge panels so people have access to quality, authoritative information right in Google Search. And we work with them to optimize their presence on YouTube by helping them get verified and more effectively engage with voters through YouTube. 

Additionally, we’re committed to enhancing election security for campaigns, voters and journalists alike. We created Protect Your Election, a suite of free tools to help protect high-risk users from the most pervasive digital attacks, like DDoS and phishing attacks (to which politicians, journalists, and campaigns are often most vulnerable). Our Advanced Protection Program and Jigsaw’s Project Shield help combat the types of digital attacks that could threaten account and web-site security. 

As part of these efforts, we’re supporting the new Election Security and Information Project, run out of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School. Last week, the trainers kicked off the first of many election security training sessions that will take place in every state across the country. This nonpartisan program is designed to help campaigns, academics, elected officials and NGOs prepare for election-related security challenges between now and November. 

Helping voters

Whether you’re registering for the first time, looking for your polling place, or voting absentee, we want to help you navigate the process. For years, we've worked with trusted organizations and built tools into Google Search to do just that—to provide you with authoritative and objective information in a completely neutral way. Our systems are designed to elevate authoritative content when people seek information about topics such as elections or candidates. We do this not only for users directly on our own platform, but also by supporting the civic technology ecosystem through products like the Google Civic Information API. These products allow third-party developers to create useful applications to help people find information, for instance, about where to vote. 

As the election season unfolds, you can tune into YouTube to watch political events and follow debate livestreams. Over the past few years, YouTube has invested in the teams and systems to raise up quality content, such as prioritizing authoritative voices in search results for news and topics prone to misinformation. 

And for the 2020 elections, you can search for political ads with more visibility than ever before: you’ll be able to see more types of ads in our Political Ads Transparency Report and Ad Library, including ads that mention federal or state-level candidates, officeholders, ballot measures and political parties. As you may have seen, we recently announced changes to our global political ads policies that expand verification and transparency measures to ads that mention state-level candidates and officeholders, ballot measures, and political parties. 

We will continue our work across Google and YouTube to tackle abuse on our platforms and help you navigate the democratic process before you head to the ballot box on November 3. 

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