Political Communication – YouTube Responds to the Challenge of Becoming a Responsible Social Media Platform

Political institutions encompass not only parties of political candidates seeking for government positions. They also include advocacy organizations pushing for reforms and activists seeking for equality and justice. Now more than ever, social media can provide the most effective channel in which political institutions can deliver their political communication.

There is no shortage of social media platforms in which to communicate ideas, but if for purposes of delivering political messages, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have become the frontrunners in the array of choices. Yet Twitter is out of the picture as far as political ads are concerned, as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey prefers promoting political endorsements that garner organic support.

Facebook, albeit leading as a social media platform, suffers from trust issues; given the data breach scandals particularly the Cambridge Analytica case that revealed how Trump’s digital campaign team manipulated FB user accounts in advancing Trump’s political campaign.

Google’s YouTube therefore has become an important Internet marketing space where political institutions can put forward their political communication. Given YouTube’s current ranking as the next largest search engine on a global scale, and its present count of 2 billion active users, the largest video-sharing social media platform has evolved into becoming a major source of political and social information.

It does not come as a surprise at all, why there was a mad scramble among political campaign teams when Google announced the activation of a new advertising app called “Instant Reserve.” The software gives political institutions, tools that enable them to buy and reserve advertising slots in advance. At the same time, they can customize their political advertisement according to their budget, as well as program them to appear in geolocations where the ads will be most timely and relevant.

In addition, Google and its YouTube platform made certain policy changes that aim to avoid committing Facebook’s political advertising errors in the 2016 presidential elections.

Google/YouTube’s New Ad-Targeting Policies

Political adverts appearing in Google and YouTube will have to tailor-fit their advertisement around the age, gender and postcode of their target audience. This denotes that publishers of advertising campaigns can not target voters based on the issues they either support or do not support (e.g. abortion, LGBTQ marriage, marijuana legalization.)

That being the case, uploading personal info data other than the aforementioned demographic factors to target specific sets of audience, is not allowed

Nonetheless, the Google and YouTube platforms will direct political advertisements to users who read and watch content related to specific issues occurring as published content.

The policy updates also address ads and content that aim to mislead voters by insinuating there is voter suppression, or by making unfounded claims that there is a breach in the integrity of the elections. Apparently, this update took into consideration the the slew of fake political news the discouraged millions of voters from going out and exercise their right to vote in the 2016 presidential election.