Elections misinformation policies

On June 2, 2023, we updated how this policy applies to past US election outcomes. Learn more in our blog.

Certain types of misleading or deceptive content with serious risk of egregious harm are not allowed on YouTube. This includes certain types of misinformation that can cause real-world harm, like certain types of technically manipulated content, and content interfering with democratic processes.

Elections Misinformation Policy: YouTube Community Guidelines

If you find content that violates this policy, report it. Instructions for reporting violations of our Community Guidelines are available here. If you've found multiple videos or comments from a single channel that you would like to report, you can report the channel.

What these policies mean for you

If you're posting content

These policies prohibit certain types of content relating to free and fair democratic elections. Don’t post elections-related content on YouTube if it fits any of the descriptions noted below.

  • Voter suppression: Content aiming to mislead voters about the time, place, means, or eligibility requirements for voting, or false claims that could materially discourage voting.
  • Candidate eligibility: Content that advances false claims related to the technical eligibility requirements for current political candidates and sitting elected government officials to serve in office. Eligibility requirements considered are based on applicable national law, and include age, citizenship, or vital status.
  • Incitement to interfere with democratic processes: Content encouraging others to interfere with democratic processes. This includes obstructing or interrupting voting procedures.
  • Election integrity: Content advancing false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches occurred in certain past elections to determine heads of government. Or, content that claims that the certified results of those elections were false. This policy currently applies to:
    • The 2021 German federal election
    • The 2014, 2018, and 2022 Brazilian Presidential elections

Keep in mind that this isn't a complete list.

Examples

The following types of content are not allowed on YouTube. This isn't a complete list.

Voter suppression
  • Telling viewers they can vote through inaccurate methods like texting their vote to a particular number.
  • Giving made up voter eligibility requirements like saying that a particular election is only open to voters over 50 years old.
  • Telling viewers an incorrect voting date.
  • Claiming that a voter’s political party affiliation is visible on a vote-by-mail envelope.
  • False claims that non-citizen voting has determined the outcome of past elections.
  • False claims that Brazilian electronic voting machines have been hacked in the past to change an individual’s vote.
Candidate eligibility
  • Claims that a candidate or sitting government official is not eligible to hold office based on false info about the age required to hold office in that country/region.
  • Claims that a candidate or sitting government official is not eligible to hold office based on false info about citizenship status requirements to hold office in that country/region.
  • Claims that a candidate or sitting government official is ineligible for office based on false claims that they’re deceased, not old enough or otherwise do not meet eligibility requirements.
Incitement to interfere with democratic processes
  • Telling viewers to create long voting lines with the purpose of making it harder for others to vote.
  • Telling viewers to hack government websites to delay the release of elections results.
  • Telling viewers to incite physical conflict with election officials, voters, candidates, or other individuals at polling locations to deter voting.
Election integrity
  • Content advancing false claims that widespread fraud, error, or glitches changed the outcome of the German parliamentary (Bundestag) elections, delegitimizes the formation of the new government or the election and appointment of the next German Chancellor.
  • False claims that widespread fraud, error, or glitches changed the outcome of the 2018 Brazilian presidential election.  

Educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic content

Sometimes, content that would otherwise violate this policy is allowed to stay on YouTube when it has Educational, Documentary, Scientific, or Artistic (EDSA) context in the video, audio, title, or description. This is not a pass to promote misinformation. Additional context may include countervailing views, or if the content condemns, disputes, or satirizes misinformation that violates our policies. Learn about how YouTube evaluates EDSA content.

Related policies

Elections-related content is also subject to other Community Guidelines. This could include, for example:

  • Content that threatens individuals such as election workers, candidates, or voters isn’t allowed under our Harassment & cyberbullying policies.
  • Content that has been technically manipulated or doctored in a way that misleads users - usually beyond clips taken out of context - and may pose a serious risk of egregious harm isn’t allowed under our Misinformation policies. For example, footage that has been technically manipulated to make a candidate for public office falsely claim they’re dropping out of the race.
  • Content that may pose a serious risk of egregious harm by falsely claiming that old footage from a past event is from a current event isn’t allowed under our Misinformation policies. For example, a video that shows a head of state condoning a violent conflict that he or she never actually condoned.
  • Content that encourages others to commit violent acts, including acts targeting election workers, candidates, or voters isn’t allowed under our Violent or graphic content policies.
  • Content that promotes violence or hatred against individuals or groups based on certain attributes isn’t allowed under our Hate speech policies. This includes, for example, content that shows a political rally attendee dehumanizing a group based on a protected attribute, such as race, religion, or sexual orientation.
  • Content that’s intended to impersonate a person or channel, such as a political candidate or their political party, isn’t allowed under our Impersonation policy.
  • Content that contains external links to material that would violate our policies and can cause a serious risk of egregious harm, like misleading or deceptive content relating to an election, hate speech targeting protected groups, or harassment targeting election workers, candidates, or voters. This can include clickable URLs, verbally directing users to other sites in a video, and other forms of link-sharing.

Remember these are just some examples, and don't post content if you think it might violate these policies. Advertiser-friendly content guidelines also apply. Please note these policies also apply to external links in your content. This can include clickable URLs, verbally directing users to other sites in video, as well as other forms.

What happens if content violates this policy

If your content violates this policy, we will remove the content and send you an email to let you know. If we can’t verify that a link you post is safe, we may remove the link. Note that violative URLs posted within the video itself or in the video’s metadata may result in the video being removed.

If this is your first time violating our Community Guidelines, you'll likely get a warning with no penalty to your channel. You will have the chance to take a policy training to allow the warning to expire after 90 days. However, if the same policy is violated within that 90 day window, the warning will not expire and your channel will be given a strike. If you violate a different policy after completing the training, you will get another warning.

If you get 3 strikes within 90 days, your channel will be terminated. Learn more about our strikes system.

We may terminate your channel or account for repeated violations of the Community Guidelines or Terms of Service. We may also terminate your channel or account after a single case of severe abuse, or when the channel is dedicated to a policy violation. We may prevent repeat offenders from taking policy trainings in the future. Learn more about channel or account terminations.

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