YouTube will no longer remove content on its platform that says widespread voter fraud happened during the 2020 election and other U.S. elections in a move that will likely have consequences for the 2024 presidential campaign, according to a report from Axios.
The video platform’s policy reversal comes as the 2024 presidential primaries heat up. Former President Donald Trump, who leads Republican primary polling, continues to challenge the results of the 2020 election, claiming widespread voter fraud took the election away from him and put President Joe Biden in the White House.
“Two years, tens of thousands of video removals, and one election cycle later, we recognized it was time to reevaluate the effects of this policy in today’s changed landscape,” YouTube said in a statement, according to Axios. “With that in mind, and with 2024 campaigns well underway, we will stop removing content that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches occurred in the 2020 and other past US Presidential elections.”
YouTube said it “carefully deliberated” before making the surprising change to its policy, but did not provide specific details on what caused the Big Tech company to reverse course. The new policy takes effect on Friday.
In March, YouTube reversed course on another decision, allowing Trump back onto the platform after banning him following the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. On that day, the former president encouraged lawmakers and his vice president to refuse the certification of the 2020 election.
The Republican Party is divided on Trump’s denial of the 2020 election results, with many arguing that it’s time to move on from the past and focus on how the party can win future elections. Trump has been heavily criticized by Republicans for continuing to deny his presidential election loss, with some GOP strategists blaming the former president for the Republican Party’s underwhelming performance in the 2022 midterm elections. The former president, however, maintains a large base of loyal supporters who defend his claims of a stolen election.
YouTube, which was bought by Google in 2006, said it will continue to stifle content it deems “election misinformation,” which includes videos “aiming to mislead voters about the time, place, means, or eligibility requirements for voting; false claims that could materially discourage voting, including those disputing the validity of voting by mail; and content that encourages others to interfere with democratic processes.”
The company transitioned leadership after Susan Wojcicki announced in February that she would step down from her role as chief executive. Neal Mohan, who was formerly YouTube’s chief product officer, stepped into the CEO position. Mohan has said he wants “robust debate” on the platform, but he has also defended removing videos that “maliciously insult someone.”