YouTube said Friday it is changing its policy to allow content that denies the validity of the 2020 presidential election and other elections and spreading claims about voter fraud.
"The ability to openly debate political ideas, even those that are controversial or based on disproven assumptions, is core to a functioning democratic society — especially in the midst of election season," the social media platform wrote in a blog post.
YouTube began removing such content in December, 2020, following claims by former President Donald Trump and his allies that voter fraud dominated the 2020 presidential race but before the events of Jan. 6, 2021.
"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," representatives of YouTube, which is owned by Google, wrote. "In the current environment, we find that while removing this content does curb some misinformation, it could also have the unintended effect of curtailing political speech without meaningfully reducing the risk of violence or other real-world harm.
"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 U.S. Presidential elections."
YouTube bloggers wrote that its election misinformation policies are remaining in place, prohibiting content that is designed to mislead voters about the time, place, means or eligibility requirements for voting, content that encourages others to interfere with the democratic process and false claims that could "materially discourage" voting, which include disputing the validity of voting by mail.
"We know citizens take the integrity of the democratic process incredibly seriously, and so do we," YouTube wrote. "We'll remain vigilant as the election unfolds, as we did in 2020, and again in 2022. And we have an elections-focused team, including members of our Intelligence Desk, Trust & Safety and product teams, monitoring real-time developments and making adjustments to our strategy as needed.
"We'll have more details to share about our approach toward the 2024 election in the months to come."
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