With less than three months to go until the 2020 US presidential election, Google has banned thousands of apps from its Play Store under its election “misinformation” rules.
Google wrote that the apps were banned for “engaging in deceptive behavior, generating manipulated content without the appropriate transparency measures or promoting demonstrably misleading claims.”
Google’s announcement comes as Big Tech companies are intensifying their crackdown on what they deem to be election misinformation by restricting what users are allowed to say about certain election-related topics.
Twitter recently announced that it was planning a crackdown on “general mischaracterizations” about mail-in voting. Since making the announcement, it has been accused of selectively applying its “fact-check” boxes to posts about mail-in voting with debunked claims suggesting that mail-in voting is being sabotaged by the United States Postal Service (USPS) being allowed to spread on the platform without a fact-check but posts from President Trump suggesting that mail-in-ballots will lead to fraud being fact-checked.
Meanwhile, Facebook employees have reportedly been debating the “merits of censoring a sitting president’s potentially false statements” and the company is also “considering new rules regarding premature claims of victory or other statements about the results.”
Another development in Big Tech’s misinformation crackdown that could have significant implications for the election is YouTube and Twitter’s banning of content around “hacked” material. In 2016, hacked material released via WikiLeaks played a big part in the US presidential election.
CNN infamously tried to act as gatekeepers to this hacked material in 2016 by telling their viewers “it’s illegal” to possess Hillary Clinton’s leaked emails but “it’s different for the media so everything you learn about this, you’re learning from us.” Social media users in 2016 were able to view the WikiLeaks for themselves without the mainstream media’s editorializing but this 2020 rule change will likely make direct access to such information more difficult.
Big Tech companies have also confirmed they’re colluding to discuss “scenario planning” related to election results and meeting regularly in the run-up to the 2020 election.