YouTube has banned content alleging widespread voter fraud changed the U.S. election outcome.
The video-sharing platform started to ban such content Wednesday on the heels of the safe harbor deadline the prior day, which requires states under federal law to have chosen their electors for the presidential election six days before the Electoral College meets to officially cast the ballots.
“Enough states have certified their election results to determine a president-elect,” YouTube said in a blog post Wednesday. “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.”
YouTube cited videos claiming a presidential candidate won the election because of widespread software glitches or counting errors as an example of the types of content it would remove.
The social media platform added that it would ramp up activity to remove such videos in weeks to come.
“As always, news coverage and commentary on these issues can remain as long at there’s sufficient education, documentary, scientific or artistic context,” YouTube said.
A group of Democratic senators raised concern in a letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki last month about the “proliferation of misinformation” on the social media platform “during and immediately following the 2020 elections” and ahead of the Georgia run-off elections.
The group urged the platform to “immediately remove all election outcome misinformation.”
The YouTube ban against such content comes after some Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee alleged big technology companies like Facebook and Twitter have anti-conservative bias in October. Later that same month, the Senate committee on commerce, held a hearing on updating Section 230, which shields social media platforms from liability as mere conduits for users’ content.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo., criticized YouTube’s latest move in a tweet.
“@Google owned @YouTube officially announcing free speech no longer allowed,” Hawley tweeted. “If you have concerns about election integrity, you must sit down and shut up. Repeal Section 230 and break these companies up.”
President Donald Trump and some other Republicans have made unsubstantiated claims of “substantial irregularities and improprieties associated with mail-in balloting,” in Pennsylvania. On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court, which has a six-member conservative majority, including three justices Trump appointed, rejected Pennsylvania Republicans’ effort to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Still, on Wednesday Trump held onto a long-shot effort to contest the election through a Texas lawsuit.
Legal analysts said that the lawsuit filed directly with the U.S. Supreme Court to contest the election in four key battleground states based on changes in election procedures is all but certain to fail.
YouTube said in its blog post Wednesday that it also has policies against “spam, scams, or other manipulated media, coordinated influence operations, and any content that seeks to incite violence.”
Prior to Wednesday, YouTube said it had already eliminated “over 8,000 channels,” since September “and thousands of harmful and misleading elections-related videos” based on its existing policies.
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