Internet video site YouTube said Wednesday that it would begin to remove any uploaded content that suggested voter fraud caused Joe Biden to win – or President Donald Trump to lose – November’s presidential election. It labeled such videos as “misleading.”
YouTube, purchased by Google in 2006 and now operating under the Alphabet umbrella, announced the decision in a blog post, suggesting that the videos violate its “community guidelines” that “prohibit spam, scams, or other manipulated media, coordinated influence operations, and any content that seeks to incite violence.”
The company justified its decision on the so-called safe harbor deadline, the date which states are expected to certify their election results.
“Given that, we 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, in line with our approach towards historical U.S. Presidential elections,” the San Bruno, California-based YouTube wrote. “For example, we will remove videos claiming that a Presidential candidate won the election due to widespread software glitches or counting errors.”
The action is likely to reinforce and amplify calls to remove internet and technology companies’ liability protection under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
Enacted at the beginning of the internet era, the law was intended to keep pornography from reaching minors. However, it has been interpreted to treat internet companies as public forums, merely an electronic bulletin board as user content, and therefore shielded from liability lawsuits for what is posted.
However, critics have argued that decisions which censors content makes them no different than a publisher which does not enjoy the protection offered to tech companies.
In addition to removing the “misleading” videos, YouTube said it will be “connecting people to authoritative information” such as NBC and CBS.
“Limiting the reach of borderline content and prominently surfacing authoritative information are important ways we protect people from problematic content that doesn’t violate our Community Guidelines,” it said.
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