Google, YouTube raise credible content, reduce misinformation ahead of Halalan 2022

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 01 2022 04:01 PM | Updated as of Mar 01 2022 05:54 PM

MANILA - Google and its video streaming platform YouTube have intensified efforts to boost distribution of credible content and to remove misinformation ahead of the Philippines' May 2022 polls, the tech giant said Tuesday.

From February 2021 to January 2022, YouTube removed over 400,000 videos uploaded from the Philippines that violated community guidelines, YouTube vice president for Product Management Emily Moxley told reporters in a virtual briefing. 

"When it comes to political conversations, one person’s misinformation is often another person’s deeply held belief. This is where the work of my team comes in, we work on ‘raise’ and ‘reduce’,” Moxley said.

“Political news and events can be subject to misinformation, so the availability of authoritative information sources is crucial. Over the last few years, we’ve made deep investments to make YouTube a more reliable source for news, while also maintaining the openness of the platform," she added.

Ahead of the elections, YouTube said the following features would help steer internet users towards credible content and vetted information:

• Candidate information panel - it appears at the top of the search results when a user in the Philippines searches the name of a presidential or vice presidential candidate, providing information that is vetted from non-partisan, third party sources
• How to vote information panel - this appears when the user searches for the phrase "how to vote." The panel will link to the Commission on Elections website with relevant information

A panel that links to the COMELEC website appears when a user searches for
A panel that links to the COMELEC website appears when a user searches for "how to vote" on YouTube

YouTube's other features that aim to boost credible information include:

• A Top News and Breaking News shelf which appears on the homepage to highlight "quality journalism" 
• Information panel indicating funding sources (example: if a publisher is funded by the government or publicly funded)
• Information panel which gives context that links to third party sources for topics that are prone to misinformation such as Martial Law in the Philippines

PROTECTING NEWS ORGANIZATIONS, JOURNALISTS

Meanwhile, Google News Lab is also supporting fact check initiatives as well as journalists covering the elections, News Lab lead for APAC Irene Jay Liu said.

The tech giant has invested in #FactFirstPH, Liu said.

The initiative includes many different organizations including those from civil society, the business community, academe, research groups and others who each have a role to play to debunk myths, amplify vetted information, and identify trends to fight misinformation. 

Google also tapped the University of the Philippines to develop an election workshop series for journalists, with an installment happening on March 4 and 5.

News organizations are also encouraged to apply under Project Shield, developed by Jigsaw and Google, which offers free protection from DDoS attacks.

The program can defend journalists against phishing, block malware and prevent fraudulent access to data, Liu said.

"We know journalists are the target of online attacks because what you do is important in disseminating information during the election...This is a program that allows you to have the extra layer of security," she said. 

Other internet-based platforms including Facebook and Twitter have also ramped up their campaign against misinformation as more and more Filipinos turn to social media and the internet during the campaign season.

Amor Maclang, a brand "architect" and co-founder of consultancy firm Geiser Maclang earlier said candidates now prefer to engage voters in platforms that are relevant to them, which explains why some aspirants ditch debates, which were previously among the few main venues for campaigns.

Maclang said learning to use technology as well as big data could help political aspirants win the support of Filipino voters. 

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