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YouTube's Censorship – Videos Alleging Fraud &/or Disputing 2020 U.S. Presidential Election Results removed

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Supporting the 2020 U.S. election

Updates to our work supporting the integrity of the 2020 U.S. election.

Over the past weeks and months, we’ve seen people coming to YouTube to learn more about where and how to vote or learning more about a candidate or an issue. We’ve seen news organizations grow their audience. And we’ve seen people turn to YouTube for the latest election results or simply to follow an historic event with the highest voting turnout in over a century in the U.S.  

 

Our main goal going into the election season was to make sure we’re connecting people with authoritative information, while also limiting the reach of misinformation and removing harmful content. The work here is ongoing and we wanted to provide an update.  

 

Removing content that violates our policies

 

Our Community Guidelines prohibit spam, scams, or other manipulated media, coordinated influence operations, and any content that seeks to incite violence. Since September, we've terminated over 8000 channels and thousands of harmful and misleading elections-related videos for violating our existing policies. Over 77% of those removed videos were taken down before they had 100 views. 


We also work to make sure that the line between what is removed and what is allowed is drawn in the right place. Our policies prohibit misleading viewers about where and how to vote. We also disallow content alleging widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of a historical U.S. Presidential election. However in some cases, that has meant allowing controversial views on the outcome or process of counting votes of a current election as election officials have worked to finalize counts. 


Yesterday was the safe harbor deadline for the U.S. Presidential election and enough states have certified their election results to determine a President-elect. 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. For example, we will remove videos claiming that a Presidential candidate won the election due to widespread software glitches or counting errors. We will begin enforcing this policy today, and will ramp up in the weeks to come. As always, news coverage and commentary on these issues can remain on our site if there’s sufficient education, documentary, scientific or artisticcontext.

 

most viewed u.s. election-related content

Connecting people to authoritative information

 

While only a small portion of watch time is election-related content, YouTube continues to be an important source of election news. On average 88% of the videos in top 10 search results related to elections came from authoritative news sources (amongst the rest are things like newsy late-night shows, creator videos and commentary). And the most viewed channels and videos are from news channels like NBC and CBS.

 

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We also showed information panels linking both to Google’s election results feature, which sources election results from The Associated Press, and to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) “Rumor Control” page for debunking election integrity misinformation, alongside these and over 200,000 other election-related videos. Collectively, these information panels have been shown over 4.5 billion times. Starting today, we will update this information panel, linking to the “2020 Electoral College Results” page from the Office of the Federal Register, noting that as of December 8, states have certified Presidential election results, with Joe Biden as the President-elect. It will also continue to include a link to CISA, explaining that states certify results after ensuring ballots are properly counted and correcting irregularities and errors.

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