YouTube scraps 2020 US election misinformation coverage

File picture of the YouTube app
| Picture Credit score: AP

YouTube will cease eradicating content material that falsely claims the 2020 U.S. presidential election was tormented by “fraud, errors or glitches,” the platform stated Friday, a call shortly criticised by anti-misinformation advocates.

The announcement by the Google-owned video web site is a marked departure from its coverage initiated in December 2020, which tried to curb false claims — most significantly pushed by then-president Donald Trump — that his re-election loss to Joe Biden was because of the vote being “stolen.”

“The power to brazenly debate political concepts, even these which are controversial or based mostly on disproven assumptions, is core to a functioning democratic society — particularly within the midst of election season,” YouTube stated in a weblog publish.

“We are going to cease eradicating content material that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches occurred within the 2020 and different previous U.S. presidential elections.”

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YouTube’s up to date coverage, which matches into impact instantly, comes as tech platforms grapple with a key situation in America’s hyperpolarised political surroundings: How you can fight misinformation with out curbing free speech?

YouTube appeared to acknowledge that policing misinformation comes with downsides.

“Two years, tens of hundreds of video removals, and one election cycle later, we acknowledged it was time to reevaluate the consequences of this coverage in as we speak’s modified panorama,” the video-sharing large stated.

“Within the present surroundings, we discover that whereas eradicating this content material does curb some misinformation, it may even have the unintended impact of curbing political speech with out meaningfully lowering the danger of violence or different real-world hurt.”

However that response prompted sharp criticism from U.S. advocacy teams.

“YouTube is lifeless unsuitable in its assertion that eradicating false election content material curtails political speech with out meaningfully lowering real-world harms,” stated Nora Benavidez, from the nonpartisan group Free Press.

“Its harmful choice to instantly cease eradicating content material… which continues to sow hate and disinformation that threatens our democracy have to be reversed instantly.”

Youtube insisted that its different present guidelines towards election misinformation stay unchanged, together with its prohibition of content material that deceives voters or incites folks to intrude with democratic processes.

“YouTube was one of many final main social media platforms to maintain in place a coverage making an attempt to curb 2020 election misinformation,” stated Julie Millican, vp of the left-leaning watchdog Media Issues.

“Now, it is determined to take the simple approach out by giving folks like Donald Trump and his enablers free rein to proceed to lie with out consequence in regards to the 2020 elections.”

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