YouTube has more than 2 billion monthly visitors. 


Angela Lang/CNET

YouTube will remove any new videos alleging that President Donald Trump lost the US 2020 election to Joseph Biden because of fraud or errors, Google‘s massive video site said Wednesday on its YouTube blog. Essentially, YouTube now categorizes Biden’s victory and Trump’s loss as historical fact, and so it will crack down on new misleading videos alleging otherwise.

YouTube noted that its policies already prohibit videos alleging that fraud or errors changed the outcome of a historical US presidential election, but “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.” Now that enough states have certified their results to determine Biden is president-elect, YouTube will remove any piece of content uploaded Wednesday or afterward “that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 US Presidential election.” 

The policy announcement from YouTube comes the day after the “safe harbor” deadline, when all challenges to an election at the state level are traditionally expected to be finished — a milestone that adds credence that the results of the election are beyond dispute. 

YouTube and social networks Facebook and Twitter have all wrestled with election misinformation in the US’ highly contested election. These companies’ policies draw controversy not only for what they allow and what they remove, but also for the platforms’ ability — or lack thereof — to adequately enforce the rules they set. Google CEO Sundar Pichai was hauled in front of Congress twice in just the four months ahead of the election, each time being upbraided for perceived failures in what YouTube leaves up and bias in what what it takes down. 

YouTube has 2 billion monthly users and is the world’s biggest source of online video. 

The company also said it is changing its “informational panel” for US presidential election results, which are fact-check boxes that show up at the top of some YouTube search results and below some videos. YouTube will update this panel to note that states have certified presidential election results with Biden as president-elect and to link to the Office of the Federal Register’s 2020 Electoral College Results. The panel will continue to include a link to Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and explain that states certify results after ensuring ballots are properly counted and correcting irregularities and errors.

In addition, YouTube released some statistics about its enforcement and other actions so far related to the election. Those election results information panels showed up beneath more than 200,000 election-related videos, the company said, adding that the panels were shown more than 4.5 billion times. Since election day, fact-check information panels showed up over YouTube search results more than 200,000 times, including for voter-fraud-related queries such as “Dominion voting machines” and “Michigan recount.”

YouTube said it has terminated more than 8,000 channels and “thousands of harmful and misleading elections-related videos” since September. It said that 77% of those removed videos were taken down before they hit 100 views. It said more than 70% of video recommendations on election-related topics directed people to news sources that YouTube deems as authoritative. It said the top 10 authoritative news channels were recommended more than 14 times more than the top 10 nonauthoritative channels on election-related material.


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