With the US Presidential Election only 40 days away, YouTube has this week announced some new prompts designed to maximize voter understanding of both candidates and the voting process, in order increase participation, and combat misinformation around the poll.
As you can see here, the new prompts will appear in searches for terms like 'how to vote' and 'how to register to vote', with alerts that direct users to Google's official voting tools via a prominent 'Learn More' CTA button.
In addition to this, searches for 2020 presidential or federal Congressional candidates will also now display a similar information panel with details about that candidate above search results.
"We’re also providing two additional information panels on voter registration and how to vote, in English and Spanish."
YouTube's also adding new in-app reminders on how to register, how to vote and where to vote, while it's also promoting information from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission about volunteering at the polls, so users can learn more about how to get involved and assist with community participation.
YouTube's also launching two new YouTube Originals to further highlight election-related information:
- YouChoose 2020 - An interactive voting special which takes viewers through the key steps in the voting process using the YouTube meme of your choosing - "from a cooking tutorial that compares voting to following a recipe, to an auto repair video that breaks down the ‘nuts and bolts’ of voting".
- Kid Correspondent - A four-part election special designed to help parents and families better understand and talk about civic engagement and the democratic process.
As always, YouTube will be a key source of news and information throughout the election period - in fact, data from Pew Research shows that some 38% of YouTube users regularly turn to the platform for news content, which only trails Facebook in terms of social media news sources.
That puts YouTube in a position of significant influence when distributing accurate information, and while the platform can also lead users down conspiracy rabbit holes, steps like these are important in ensuring that YouTube's audience is getting the right information about the voting process within their viewing activity.
That's even more important in 2020. With more people spending time at home due to the various impacts of the COVID-19 mitigation efforts, YouTube is seeing an increase in viewership, with the platform recently reporting that watch time of YouTube content on TV screens jumped 80% year over year.
Combine this with the fact that more regional newspapers and news outlets have been forced to shut down due to the economic impacts of the pandemic, and that leaves an increasing number of people seeking out news content from alternate sources. Like Facebook and YouTube.
As such, the role that all social platforms play in distributing accurate information will be ramped up this year, which is why it's important that each includes links to official information, like these new prompts, in related user queries.