YouTube announced plans on Wednesday to censor content that challenges 2020’s election results, saying the company will continue to strive to connect people “with authoritative information.”
“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,” the tech giant said in a blog post. “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.”
The company further explained that in addition to “limiting the reach of borderline content” they also “prominently [surfaced] authoritative information.”
While only a small portion of watch time is election-related content, YouTube continues to be an important source of election news. On average 88% of the videos in top 10 search results related to elections came from authoritative news sources (amongst the rest are things like newsy late-night shows, creator videos and commentary). And the most viewed channels and videos are from news channels like NBC and CBS.
We also showed information panels linking both to Google’s election results feature, which sources election results from The Associated Press, and to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) “Rumor Control” page for debunking election integrity misinformation, alongside these and over 200,000 other election-related videos. Collectively, these information panels have been shown over 4.5 billion times. Starting today, we will update this information panel, linking to the “2020 Electoral College Results” page from the Office of the Federal Register, noting that as of December 8, states have certified Presidential election results, with Joe Biden as the President-elect. It will also continue to include a link to CISA, explaining that states certify results after ensuring ballots are properly counted and correcting irregularities and errors.
Additionally, since Election Day, relevant fact check information panels, from third party fact checkers, were triggered over 200,000 times above relevant election-related search results, including for voter fraud narratives such as “Dominion voting machines” and “Michigan recount.” (YouTube)
Many on Twitter reacted to the "chilling and authoritarian" update.
We're heading for the end-of-free-speech era, and big corporations like the one that owns YouTube are going to be the main drivers. https://t.co/AL72ZVU9dB— Justin T. Haskins (@JustinTHaskins) December 9, 2020
.@Google/@YouTube, under false and non-sensical pretenses, doubles down on election intervention and political censorship against @RealDonaldTrump to help Joe Biden -- the day after President Trump officially threatens veto over Section 230 reform. https://t.co/AIkTDqfQVT— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) December 9, 2020
YouTube going full CCP https://t.co/iFDPGIdnf8— 1inaQuadrillion.357 (@ASimplePatriot) December 9, 2020
Absolutely chilling and authoritarian.— Grummz (@Grummz) December 9, 2020
This will expand to other topics. You won’t be able to be critical of government policies, or say, certain corporations. https://t.co/NctpzgGt0Z