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Google set to ‘support’ UK elections with new measures to combat ‘misinformation’


Google has found itself yet another election to “support.”

After the company made announcements to this effect related to the E.U. (European Parliament) June ballot, voters in the U.K. can now also look forward to – or dread, as the case may be – the tech giant’s role in the upcoming general election.

A blog post by Google U.K. Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy Katie O’Donovan announced even more “moderation” and a flurry of other measures, most of which have become tried-and-tested instruments of Google’s censorship over the past years.

They are divided in three categories – pushing (“surfacing”) content and sources of information picked by Google as authoritative and of high quality, along with YouTube information panels, investing in what it calls Trust & Safety operations, as well as “equipping campaigns with the best-in-class security tools and training.”

Another common point is combating “misinformation” – together with what the blog post refers to as “the wider ecosystem.” That concerns Google News Initiative and PA Media, a private news agency, and their Election Check 24, which is supposed to safeguard the U.K. election from “mis- and dis-information.”

Searches related to voting are “rigged” to return results manipulated to boost what Google considers authoritative sources – notably, the U.K. government’s site.

As for AI, the promise is that users of Google platforms will receive “help navigating” that type of content.

This includes the obligation for advertisers to reveal that ads “include synthetic content that inauthentically depicts real or realistic-looking people or events” (this definition can easily be stretched to cover parody, memes, and similar).

“Disclosure” here, however, is still differentiated from Google’s outright ban on manipulated media that it decides “misleads people.” Such content is labeled, and banned if considered as having the ability to maybe pose “a serious risk of egregious harm.”

And then there’s Google’s AI chatbot Gemini, which the giant has restricted in terms of what types of election-related queries it will respond to – once again, as a way to root out “misinformation” while promoting “fairness.”

This falls under what the company considers to be “a responsible approach to generative AI products.”

But as always, AI is also seen as a “tool for good” – for example, when it allows for building “faster and more adaptable enforcement systems.”