A YouTube video makes an unfounded claim that Trump won the 2020 election, and it could be fine with the site’s moderation policies.
A YouTube video declaring victory for President Trump in the 2020 US presidential election is stirring up controversy, but won’t be removed by the platform’s moderators. YouTube, along with many other prominent social platforms, implemented sweeping policies regarding content moderation around political posts. Those policy changes are now subject to scrutiny given the company’s response (or lack thereof) to this likely fraudulent video.
Social media giants Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have been under immense pressure from citizens and lawmakers to take more responsibility for the roles these massive platforms can play in an election. Trump’s 2016 presidential victory was followed by the realization that his campaign leveraged social media trends to reach voters in ways previous candidates did not. These tactics, while clever, also triggered one of the most divisive periods of online discourse the world has ever experienced.
That division forced people to focus on what, if anything, platform owners could do to stop these online political arguments from impacting people’s voting rights. One of YouTube’s responses was the implementation of a policy stating content designed to obstruct voting procedures would be removed, as reported by CNBC. That rule sits at the heart of the issue of a video from the One America News Network account titled “Trump Won. MSM hopes you don’t believe your eyes.”. The video alleges Trump was victorious in the 2020 election on Election Day 2020, and the mainstream media is misleading people into believing Democratic candidate Joe Biden took the lead a day later.
YouTube’s Response to the Video
YouTube won’t remove the video in question due to a somewhat-shaky technicality. The platform’s policy dictates the removal of videos that impede or discourage voting. A spokesperson revealed the company’s decision not to remove this video since it can’t impede the voting process now that the polls are closed. Objectively, it makes sense that a video can’t impact people’s ability to vote if the voting stage of the election has already ended. However, the video’s unfounded claims and clear intent to stir up more political arguments are exactly the sorts of issues people blame social media for exacerbating.
The video will see some consequences from YouTube’s moderators, however. The service won’t remove the video but it will demonetize it (prevent the posting account from generating revenue through views or ads) as part of a rule promising such a reaction for videos that spread false election information. It’s debatable whether such a response is adequate for what many consider should be the intended goal of the new YouTube policies: stopping the spread of political misinformation. However, this reaction from YouTube should come as no surprise as it does technically fit the “letter” of the law.
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