YouTube Says It Will Now Take Down Election Conspiracy Videos
YouTube says it will begin taking down videos that promote conspiracy theories about last month’s US presidential election.
The move comes after the company faced criticism for allowing content spreading lies and fake news about voter fraud to remain visible on the site.
The video platform, which is owned by Google, has previously demonetised and suspended users who repeatedly breached its guidelines on misinformation, but has historically avoided removing videos from the platform despite campaign group warnings that the site was helping to radicalise ordinary viewers.
However, there’s a significant loophole in YouTube’s new policy, which will only apply to videos posted from today, December 9. That means that thousands of videos containing conspiracy theories disputing the result of the election posted over the past month will remain available on the platform.
YouTube said in a statement:
Yesterday was the safe harbor deadline for the U.S. Presidential election and enough states have certified their election results to determine a President-elect.
Given that, we will start removing any piece of content uploaded today (or anytime after) that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.
A spokesperson for the company told Buzzfeed News that potentially misleading content posted before the cut-off date would be feature an ‘information panel’ updated to reflect the latest information about the election.
It is now more than three weeks since news networks called the election for Joe Biden, with the Electoral College set to certify the result next week, December 14.
Last month, YouTube faced backlash for refusing to remove videos posted by One America News Network, a pro-Trump news channel, which claimed that Trump had won ‘another four years’, and also spread false information about a cure for COVID-19. In a post today, the company said it had so far terminated 8,000 channels for violating its election policies.
YouTube is not the only social media platform to be criticised for failing to respond to fake news and conspiracy theories spreading online. Facebook and Twitter have previously resisted calls to remove content for their platforms, saying they wanted to avoid being accused of ‘censorship’. Over the course of the election both sites have placed content warning labels on posts and tweets from President Trump, with Twitter saying it had labelled 300,000 tweets as misleading in the weeks before and after election day.
The Trump campaign has continued to contest the results of the election through legal challenges, but has yet to succeed in any of their attempts to overturn individual state results.
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