YouTube Reverses Ban On 2020 Election Denial As 2024 Race Ramps Up
YouTube announced Friday that it would no longer remove election lies from its platform as former President Donald Trump and the MAGA-faithful continue to deny the results of the 2020 presidential election.
In a statement released on an official company blog, one of the world’s largest video platforms cited the “ability to openly debate political ideas, even those that are controversial or based on disproven assumptions,” as the reason for the change. A 2020 Pew Research study found that a quarter of American adults get their news from the platform.
“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,” Google-owned YouTube said.
“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.”
In its statement, the company clarified that it would continue to remove content that misleads voters about the voting process.
YouTube announced the policy in December 2020, just under a month before the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. A study from the independent research group Transparency.tube found that videos peddling election lies garnered more than 137 million views during the election week. Those videos frequently spread to other social media platforms, comprising about one-third of all election-related videos posted to Twitter in November 2020. But after YouTube introduced the policy, the amount of election fraud videos shared on social media declined, The New York Times reported.
In a statement responding to the change, Julie Millican, vice president of liberal watchdog Media Matters for America, noted that Youtube was “one of the last major social media platforms to keep in place a policy attempting to curb 2020 election misinformation.” Twitter stopped suspending, banning, or fact-checking users spreading election lies in March 2021, while Facebook reduced its efforts to quell the spread of misinformation in the lead-up to the 2022 midterms. This March, YouTube reinstated Trump’s account, following Meta and Twitter’s lead.
YouTube “is now allowing people to say whatever they wish about the 2020 election,” far-right Republican congresswoman Lauren Boebert tweeted on Saturday, responding to the news. “Looks like even YouTube is ready for people to start talking TRUTH again.”