YouTube was the slowest major platform to ban disinformation during the 2020 US election and nearly three years later the company will abandon this policy entirely.
The company announced on Friday that it would overturn its rules on election denial, allowing certain previously prohibited false claims, with immediate effect. Axios first reported the changes.
“In the current environment, we find that while removing this content curbs some misinformation, it could also have the unintended effect of restricting political discourse without significantly reducing the risk of violence or other real harm,” said writes the company in a blog. job.
“With this in mind, and with the 2024 campaigns well underway, we will stop removing content that makes false claims that widespread fraud, error, or trouble occurred in the 2020 U.S. presidential elections and others. years.”
YouTube still won’t allow some children to make false election-related claims, like lying about polling locations and other specific efforts to dissuade people from successfully voting.
“All of our election disinformation policies remain in place, including those that prohibit content intended to mislead voters about the time, place, means or eligibility requirements to vote; false claims that may materially discourage voting, including those challenging the validity of postal voting; and content that encourages others to interfere with democratic processes,” the company wrote.
There is certainly an argument that, overall, denying valid results of a presidential election ultimately does more to discourage people from voting than these more focused hypothetical scenarios. But it doesn’t appear that allowing users to sow widespread distrust of the democratic process meets the company’s definition of “real-world harm.”
Even though the application was tough, it’s an odd choice to announce that it’s open season for US election denial on YouTube, especially with the 2024 race looming. The company plans to offer more updates around its 2024 election strategy in the coming months, so hopefully YouTube expands on its thinking or other planned precautions then.