Google removes thousands of apps for spreading fake poll info

Google has removed thousands of apps for engaging in deceptive behaviour, distributing misleading information such as altering media clips or sending fake text messages in the run-up to November presidential election in the US.

The company said that as mobile apps disseminate voting information and increasingly support voting activity, it is on the job to ensure safety and transparency for app users.

“At Google Play, our policies are designed to promote transparency for our users and help protect against misinformation. This work is critically important when it comes to safeguarding elections as people use apps to research candidates, register to vote, or find a polling place,” said Camille Stewart, Head of Security Policy and Election Integrity at Google.

In November last year, Google implemented changes that require any app that shares official government information to be clear about the source of that information and the app’s affiliation with the government.

“This information should be apparent from the app’s description. We also work with governments to verify their apps so people can be confident when reading and engaging with government information,” Google said in a statement on Wednesday.

To promote transparency in news publishing, Google recently introduced minimum requirements that apps must meet in order to be classified in the News category on Google Play.

These include transparency requirements about the source and ownership of in-app news content, requirements applicable to news subscription services, and requirements regarding the use of affiliate marketing and ad revenue.

“We’ve also created dedicated teams across Google Play solely focused on elections to provide additional support and adapt to the changing landscape,” the tech giant explained.

This includes additional support for government agencies, specially trained app reviewers, and a safety team to address election threats and abuse.