Big things are happening at YouTube… and no, it isn’t the usual censorship to which we’ve become accustomed!
Today, YouTube announced that it had reversed its election integrity policy, which previously prohibited content speculating fraud or any other errors had occurred in the 2020 presidential election. The policy was enacted in December of 2020, but now the platform is rolling it back, claiming that it felt as though leaving it in place may have the effect of “curtailing political speech without meaningfully reducing the risk of violence or other real-world harm.”
In an official statement to Axios, a YouTube spokesperson said: “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.”
The statement continued: “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.”
The rest of YouTube’s “misinformation” policies remain in place, including those that disallow content aiming to mislead voters about the time, place, means, or eligibility requirements for voting. The policies will also continue to prohibit 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 dramatic change comes just two weeks after the platform announced it was reinstating the account of former president Donald Trump, which had been suspended in January of 2021 following the Capitol Hill protests.
This latest policy reversal is interesting, given that the platform deleted videos and permanently suspended countless creators over the issue. But, before you get too excited, this doesn’t change any of the other rules YouTube has in place in regards to “misinformation.” Anything about vaccines, Hunter Biden or “conspiracy” content is still ban-worthy.
As the 2024 elections are fast approaching, it’s clear YouTube will once again become a place of political debate. Will these changes foster more communication and discussion? Since YouTube can change its policy and stance at any point, it’s unlikely, but at least it’s a (small) step in the direction of “free speech.”
YouTube said it will provide more details about its approach to the 2024 election in the months to come. Donald Trump and other elected officials will likely create content centered around the stolen election, so we’ll see if their videos remain on the site.