In a surprising move, YouTube announced on Friday that it will no longer remove content that falsely claims widespread fraud, errors, or glitches in the 2020 election or previous U.S. presidential elections.
This marks a reversal of the Google-owned video platform’s stance taken just a month after the 2020 presidential elections , when it vowed to remove such misleading posts.
The updated policy aims to preserve the ability to engage in open political debate, even on controversial topics or those based on disproven assumptions, according to a blog post by YouTube.
The platform expressed concerns that while removing this content might address some misinformation, it could inadvertently restrict political speech without effectively reducing real-world harm or the risk of violence.
Effective immediately, the revised policy does not prevent YouTube from removing content that attempts to deceive voters in future U.S. or international elections. The company clarified that its existing rules against election misinformation remain unchanged.
However, enforcing this policy may pose challenges, noted John Wihbey, an associate professor at Northeastern University specializing in social media and misinformation.
He suggested that disinformation proponents could exploit the gray area by questioning the value of voting in general, using the 2020 election as an example. The task of the content moderation team would be complex as they navigate the line between referencing past events and potential future scenarios.