YouTube has detailed how it will scale up its censorship efforts in the run-up to the 2022 US midterm elections by removing election “misinformation” and suppressing content that doesn’t break any rules but is considered to be “borderline.”
YouTube claims that its election misinformation policy applies to any past US presidential election, the 2021 German federal election, and the 2014 and 2018 Brazilian presidential elections. Under this policy, alleging that “widespread fraud, errors, or glitches” occurred in these elections or claiming that “certified results of those elections were false” is banned.
Despite YouTube’s claim that this policy applies to any past US presidential election, numerous videos questioning the 2016 US presidential results and alleging that Russia hacked the election are still on the platform. By contrast, the policy was used to remove more than 8,000 channels for making “harmful and misleading” claims about the 2020 US presidential election. And YouTube said it’s already removed several videos related to the 2022 US midterms.
In addition to removing content that breaks its election misinformation rules, YouTube will also prevent “borderline” content from being widely recommended. According to YouTube, borderline content doesn’t break any rules but is suppressed because it comes close to breaking the rules.
Finally, YouTube will amplify mainstream media outlets that it deems to be “authoritative” by:
- Prominently recommending their content
- Promoting their election night live streams on the YouTube homepage
- Adding labels from these sources below videos about the midterms and in search results about the midterms
YouTube said that PBS NewsHour, The Wall Street Journal, Univision and local ABC, CBS and, NBC affiliates are some of the authoritative sources that will receive additional amplification.
In 2020, YouTube’s artificial amplification of mainstream media outlets gave them a huge advantage over independent creators. Independent creators were 14x less likely to be recommended on election-related content and mainstream media outlets had an 88% chance of ranking in the top 10 search results for election-related content.
YouTube is one of several Big Tech platforms to announce increased election censorship measures in the run-up to the 2022 US midterms with Facebook and Twitter recently describing how they plan to censor what they deem to be election misinformation as the midterms approach.