Google-owned YouTube announces censorship of content questioning 2020 election results

On Wednesday, December 9, YouTube announced that since the ‘safe harbour deadline’ (Dember 7th) has passed, the company “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,”.

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In a December 9th official blog post from YouTube, the company writes about “Updates to our work supporting the integrity of the 2020 U.S. election.”

In the blog post, the YouTube Team discusses it’s actions since the November 3rd, 2020 election. Some of the actions included “connecting people with authoritative information”, “limiting the reach of misinformation and removing harmful content” and how this work is “ongoing” so the company wants to provide an “update” for how the platform will move forward with its new policies. 

YouTube describes how they have “terminated over 8000 channels and thousands of harmful and misleading elections-related videos for violating our existing policies.” 

YouTube writes that moving forward because the ‘safe harbor deadline’ has passed, they 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,”.

“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.”

In addition to removing and censoring content, the company discusses how it will connect “people to authoritative information”. 

“For example, while problematic misinformation represents a fraction of 1% of what’s watched on YouTube in the U.S., we know we can bring that number down even more. And some videos, while not recommended prominently on YouTube, continue to get high views, sometimes coming from other sites. We’re continuing to consider this and other new challenges as we make ongoing improvements.”

YouTube describes allegations of fraud in the 2020 election in YouTube videos as abuse of their platform to “incite real-world harm or broadly spread harmful misinformation”. 

The move by YouTube has added to the calls for U.S. legislatures to repeal Section 230 protections from the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which provides immunity to ‘interactive computer service’ companies from liability of what is posted on its platform. Those who want to repeal Section 230 argue that these companies act as publishers, and therefore should be treated like publishers.

The 2020 election remains a contested election, and recently the State of Texas has brought a lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court against the four contested states Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan over the four states “administration of the 2020 presidential election.

The suit alleges that “the 2020 election suffered from significant and unconstitutional irregularities in the Defendant States” which include non-legislative actors’ changing election laws unconstitutionally, voters being treated unequally across each state, and “The appearance of voting irregularities in the Defendant States that would be consistent with the unconstitutional relaxation of ballot-integrity protections in those States’ election laws”.

“All these flaws – even the violations of state election law – violate one or more of the federal requirements for elections (i.e., equal protection, due process, and the Electors Clause) and thus arise under federal law.“

The suit claims that “these flaws cumulatively preclude knowing who legitimately won the 2020 election and threaten to cloud all future elections.”

Read the full suit here.

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