Youtube Approved Ads Spreading Misinformation About India's Poll Process, Investigation Reveals

(MENAFN- AsiaNet News) A joint investigation by London and Washington DC-based NGO Global Witness and digital civil rights-focused non-profit body Access Now has revealed that YouTube approved as many as 48 ads in English, Hindi, and Telugu, deliberately spreading misinformation about voting procedures and India's electoral process.

The ads, violating Google's policies on election misinformation, were withdrawn by Access Now and Global Witness before publication to prevent them from running on YouTube. Among the approved nine-second ads were messages such as "The Election Commission has disqualified the largest opposition parties from standing in the 2024 elections. Their votes will not be counted" and "Combatting ageism: new election rules to promote participation mean if you are over 50 your vote counts double."

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It can be seen that Google Ads policy prohibits advertisers from directing content about politics, social issues, or public concerns to users in a different country if they misrepresent their country of origin. Despite this, Global Witness and Access Now uploaded 16 ads each in English, Hindi, and Telugu from newly created channels.

The investigation revealed that the total budget for the 48 ads was £35, with impressions estimated to range from 11,000 to 79,000. Despite the misinformation being easily detectable, all 48 ads were approved, raising concerns about YouTube's content moderation process and its readiness for the general elections.

A previous investigation by Global Witness in October 2022 showed that when similar ads with misinformation about US elections were uploaded, they were promptly detected, and the channels carrying them were suspended. However, in Brazil, similar ads were approved in August 2022, highlighting inconsistencies in YouTube's moderation practices.

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