YouTube is changing policies to allow false claims about past US presidential elections


YouTube will no longer remove content that falsely claims that the 2020 election or any other past U.S. presidential election was marred by “widespread fraud, error or glitches,” the platform announced Friday.

The change is a reversal for that Google’s own video servicewhich called A month after the 2020 election, the announcement to remove new posts falsely claiming widespread voter fraud or errors changed the outcome.

YouTube said in a blog post that the updated policy was an attempt to protect the ability to “openly discuss political ideas, including those that are controversial or based on disproved assumptions”.

“In the current environment, we are finding that while removing this content mitigates some misinformation, it could also have the unintended effect of restricting political expression without significantly reducing the risk of violence or other harm in the real world,” it said in the blog post.

The updated policy, which takes effect immediately, will not prevent YouTube from removing content that attempts to deceive voters in the upcoming 2024 election or other future US and foreign elections. The company said its other existing rules against election misinformation remain unchanged.

This could prove difficult to enforce, said John Wihbey, an associate professor at Northeastern University who studies social media and misinformation.

“It doesn’t take a genius when you’re on the side of disinformation, ‘We did wrong in 2020,’ to say, ‘Wait a minute, let’s just say voting in general isn’t worth it.'” And 2020 is our example,” he said. “I don’t know how you can unravel rhetoric that relates to both past wrongs and future possibilities. The content moderation team that will attempt this will do their best to figure out exactly where that line is.”

The announcement comes after YouTube and other major social media companies, including Twitter and Meta-owned companies Facebook and Instagram, have come under fire in recent years for not doing more to stem the tide of electoral misinformation and disinformation circulating on their platforms.

Left-leaning media watch group Media Matters said the policy change came as no surprise as it was one of the “last major social media platforms” to keep the policy.

“YouTube and the other platforms like Facebook, which had previously softened their voting misinformation policies, have made it clear that an attempted uprising was not enough. “They are setting the stage for an encore,” their vice president, Julie Millican, said in a statement.

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