At Google Play, our policies are designed to promote transparency for our users and help protect against misinformation. This work is critically important when it comes to safeguarding elections as people use apps to research candidates, register to vote, or find a polling place. As mobile apps disseminate voting information and increasingly support voting activity, we’re ensuring safety and transparency for app users. Recently, we’ve updated some policies to improve election safety and have committed additional resources to help safeguard elections.
Preventing deceptive behavior
We don’t allow apps that enable people to distribute misleading information, such as altering media clips or sending fake text messages. While this policy applies broadly, addressing this content is particularly important as manipulated content increasingly appears in political discourse. To date, we’ve removed thousands of apps for engaging in deceptive behavior, generating manipulated content without the appropriate transparency measures or promoting demonstrably misleading claims. Read our deceptive behavior and manipulated media policies for more information. Additionally, our misleading claims policy prohibits demonstrably deceptive content that may interfere with voting processes, such as listing incorrect polling location information.
Transparent government information
Whether people are looking for information on paying taxes or how to register to vote, they should have reliable and clearly-sourced information. In November 2019, we implemented changes that require any app that shares official government information to be clear about the source of that information and the app’s affiliation with the government. This information should be apparent from the app’s description. We also work with governments to verify their apps so people can be confident when reading and engaging with government information. Read this article for more information on communicating government information. Governments and any app communicating government information can visit this site for new information on keeping their apps secure.
Minimum requirements for news apps
To promote transparency in news publishing, we’ve recently introduced minimum requirements that apps must meet in order to be classified in the News category on Google Play. These include transparency requirements about the source and ownership of in-app news content, requirements applicable to news subscription services, and requirements regarding the use of affiliate marketing and ad revenue. These changes don’t make judgements about the content or the quality of the news itself. You can find more information about these requirements here.
Dedicated election support
We’ve also created dedicated teams across Google Play solely focused on elections to provide additional support and adapt to the changing landscape. This includes additional support for government agencies, specially trained app reviewers, and a safety team to address election threats and abuse.
As part of Google’s work to prevent abuse on our platforms and help voters, Google Play and Android will continue to promote transparency for users, fight abuse on our platform, and equip developers with information and training resources to secure their apps. For more information about Google’s support for democratic processes around the world, please visit elections.google.
By Camille Stewart, Head of Security Policy and Election Integrity.