The popular video platform YouTube will start removing any video uploads posted on Wednesday or later that question the outcome of the 2020 election based on claims of “widespread fraud or errors.”
YouTube announced its updated policy on Wednesday morning on its blog. The platform said that any video containing assertions that the 2020 election outcome was changed by “widespread fraud or errors” would get booted from the site unless “sufficient” context is provided.
“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, in line with our approach towards historical U.S. Presidential elections,” YouTube said in a blog post (excerpt below). “For example, we will remove videos claiming that a Presidential candidate won the election due to widespread software glitches or counting errors. We will begin enforcing this policy today, and will ramp up in the weeks to come. As always, news coverage and commentary on these issues can remain on our site if there’s sufficient education, documentary, scientific or artistic context.”
YouTube’s decision to censor content that suggests the election was fraudulently won comes as legal challenges over the election results are still working through the courts. The Trump campaign filed an extensive challenge to Georgia’s election results last week, pointing out enough instances of alleged fraud that the suit could overturn the presidential election in the state.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday against the battleground states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin arguing that the states should be blocked from voting in the electoral college over alleged violations of election law. The court ordered the defendants to respond by Thursday. President Trump announced on Wednesday morning that the Trump administration would be joining the suit in support of Texas.
YouTube’s announcement of its new censorship policy was met with backlash from the platform’s content creators and others.
The Daily Caller social media manager Logan Hall noted that the platform did not enforce a similar policy after the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race, after which losing Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams made unsupported allegations that voter fraud and suppression gave the election to GOP Gov. Brian Kemp.
didn’t notice a safe harbor deadline from youtube on a certain georgia governor’s race ¯_(ツ)_/¯ pic.twitter.com/TuuMo34F4w
— Logan Hall (@loganclarkhall) December 9, 2020
Commentators Dave Rubin and Tim Pool, both of whom post their videos to YouTube, slammed the new policy. Rubin asserted that it was a threat to free speech while Pool said it is “time to start suing YouTube” for abusing its classification as a platform under federal law.
Holy shit just got this email from YouTube.
Starting today they will remove content about election fraud…even though there are court cases about election fraud going through the system at this very moment.
Adios free speech. The bannings are coming. pic.twitter.com/UqlVOSAdR6
— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) December 9, 2020
These are editorial guidelines
Time to start suing Youtube as they are now issuing direct guidance on what you can publish outside what is prescribed in Section 230 https://t.co/2TTPVEc0ng
— Tim Pool (@Timcast) December 9, 2020
Earlier this year, YouTube decided to censor videos allegedly questioning or undermining public health guidance on COVID-19. In April, the platform removed a video from the page of an ABC News affiliate of a press conference by two doctors asserting that restrictive lockdowns caused more harm than good for combatting the coronavirus. At the time, YouTube said the video violated its community standards and did not provide sufficient context.
“We quickly remove flagged content that violate our Community Guidelines, including content that explicitly disputes the efficacy of local healthy authority recommended guidance on social distancing that may lead others to act against that guidance,” YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi told The Daily Wire in an email. “However, content that provides sufficient educational, documentary, scientific or artistic (EDSA) context is allowed — for example, news coverage of this interview with additional context. From the very beginning of the pandemic, we’ve had clear policies against COVID-19 misinformation and are committed to continue providing timely and helpful information at this critical time.”
Excerpt of YouTube’s blog post announcing its new 2020 election policy below:
Supporting the 2020 U.S. election
Over the past weeks and months, we’ve seen people coming to YouTube to learn more about where and how to vote or learning more about a candidate or an issue. We’ve seen news organizations grow their audience. And we’ve seen people turn to YouTube for the latest election results or simply to follow an historic event with the highest voting turnout in over a century in the U.S.
Our main goal going into the election season was to make sure we’re connecting people with authoritative information, while also limiting the reach of misinformation and removing harmful content. The work here is ongoing and we wanted to provide an update.
Removing content that violates our policies
Our Community Guidelines prohibit spam, scams, or other manipulated media, coordinated influence operations, and any content that seeks to incite violence. Since September, we’ve terminated over 8000 channels and thousands of harmful and misleading elections-related videos for violating our existing policies. Over 77% of those removed videos were taken down before they had 100 views.
We also work to make sure that the line between what is removed and what is allowed is drawn in the right place. Our policies prohibit misleading viewers about where and how to vote. We also disallow content alleging widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of a historical U.S. Presidential election. However in some cases, that has meant allowing controversial views on the outcome or process of counting votes of a current election as election officials have worked to finalize counts.
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, in line with our approach towards historical U.S. Presidential elections. For example, we will remove videos claiming that a Presidential candidate won the election due to widespread software glitches or counting errors. We will begin enforcing this policy today, and will ramp up in the weeks to come. As always, news coverage and commentary on these issues can remain on our site if there’s sufficient education, documentary, scientific or artistic context.