YouTube announced on Friday that it would stop censoring content that erroneously asserts there were “fraud, errors, or glitches” in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. This decision was swiftly attacked by those who work to combat disinformation.
The move by the Google-owned video platform marks a significant change from its policy, which was first implemented in December 2020 and sought to stop false claims, most notably those promoted by then-president Donald Trump, that his re-election failure to Joe Biden was the result of the vote being “stolen.”
In a blog post, YouTube stated that “the capacity for open political discussion, even those that are controversial or based on disproved assumptions, is core to a functioning democratic society, particularly in the midst of an election period.”
“We will stop deleting stuff that promotes false claims that widespread misconduct, mistakes, or glitches took place in the 2020 and other prior U.S. presidential elections,” the statement reads.
The revised policy from YouTube, which is effective right away, comes as digital companies struggle with how to address the problem of combating misinformation without restricting free expression in the highly divided political climate in the United States.
YouTube gave the impression that it was a drawback to policing false information.
After two years, hundreds of thousands of video eliminations, and one election cycle, the video-sharing juggernaut declared that it was time to reconsider the consequences of this policy in light of the current environment’s changes.
However, U.S. advocacy organisations harshly criticised such a response.
YouTube reiterated that its other policies against election misinformation remain in place, including its ban on material that misleads voters or encourages individuals to obstruct democratic processes.
According to Julie Millican, vice president of the left-leaning watchdog group Media Matters, “YouTube was one of the last major social media platforms to keep in effect a policy trying to curb 2020 election falsehoods.”
“Now, it has been determined to take the easy way out and allow people like Donald Trump and his supporters free reign to continue lying about the presidential election in 2020 without penalty.”