YouTube walks back policy on 2020 US election misinformation

  • YouTube has announced a change in its policy when it comes to election misinformation.
  • The platform says it will no longer be removing videos that make false claims that the 2020 US elections were rigged or fraud took place.
  • YouTube says this move has been taken as removing such videos does not lessen the likelihood of violence.

With political campaigning for the 2024 US Presidential elections now beginning in earnest, YouTube has made an announcement that is rather concerning when it comes to election misinformation.

Some may remember in the wake of the 2020 US elections and allegations that it was rigged or fraud had taken place after Donald Trump did not get a second term, that many social media platforms took a stronger stance when it came to handling election misinformation.

While it was one of the last major platforms to do so, YouTube did the same under a new policy, removing videos that featured false claims regarding the outcome of the 2020 US elections.

Now the company is seemingly walking back that decision and removing that policy for all intents and purposes.

“Two years, tens of thousands of video removals, and one election cycle later, we recognized it was time to reevaluate the effects of this policy in today’s changed landscape. In the current environment, we find that while removing this content does curb some misinformation, it could also have the unintended effect of curtailing political speech without meaningfully reducing the risk of violence or other real-world harm,” it explained in a blog post.

“With that in mind, and with 2024 campaigns well underway, we will stop removing content that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches occurred in the 2020 and other past US Presidential elections. This goes into effect today, Friday, June 2. As with any update to our policies, we carefully deliberated this change,” it added.

According to YouTube, this change in policy is part of a larger “holistic approach” when it comes to information regarding the elections. As such, it seemingly looks like YouTube is letting its viewers decide what to believe, but as we have seen from its algorithm in recent years, videos that represent the facts are often overshadowed by those which are viral or garner strong reactions.

The platform further explained that this walk back is aimed specifically at content related to 2020 election misinformation, and that it will still enforce some policies related to the act of voting.

“All of our election misinformation policies remain in place, including those that disallow content aiming to mislead voters about the time, place, means, or eligibility requirements for voting; false claims that could materially discourage voting, including those disputing the validity of voting by mail; and content that encourages others to interfere with democratic processes,” the blog post continued.

“We know citizens take the integrity of the democratic process incredibly seriously, and so do we. We’ll remain vigilant as the election unfolds, as we did in 2020, and again in 2022,” it concluded.

[Image – Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash]


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