No issue this election season is generating more misinformation online than voting by mail, even though some of the major tech platforms have made combating false information about voting a top priority.
On Thursday, YouTube is taking another crack at it. The site will add text under videos about mail-in voting that directs viewers to authoritative information from the Bipartisan Policy Center. The company has a similar feature on other topics that attract a lot of posts and videos containing false or misleading information, like the coronavirus.
“We’re continuing to raise up authoritative voices and reduce harmful misinformation,” Leslie Miller, YouTube’s vice president of government affairs and public policy, said in a company blog post.
Facebook and Twitter introduced voting information hubs this year and have been flagging — and at times removing — misleading posts about the election. While YouTube does not have a dedicated election hub, it has added panels on candidates when a user searches for them on the site, and it highlights information for how to vote and register on related search results.
But the social media companies have struggled in general to apply their misinformation policies evenly across their platforms, and election misinformation has continued to slip through, including the baseless narrative that voting by mail is likely to be unreliable.
President Trump’s trumpeting of inaccurate information about voting by mail has magnified the issue on social media. Voting by mail is the No. 1 topic of election misinformation this year, according to data from media insights company Zignal Labs; the analysis showed 3.1 million mentions across social media and TV broadcasts since January.
Social media companies have long demurred from policing politicians’ speech on their sites because they considered the posts by world leaders “newsworthy.” That started to change for Mr. Trump in May when Twitter set a precedent by labeling two of his tweets, in which he had posted about mail-in ballots and falsely claimed that they would cause the presidential election to be “rigged.”
In September, Facebook followed suit by introducing a sweeping set of changes to try to limit voter misinformation. Hours after rolling them out, the company applied its new rules to one of Mr. Trump’s posts on his Facebook page, in which he cast doubt on the vote-by-mail process.