Last week, YouTube suspended a popular daily news program from The hill for including in his reporting footage of former President Donald Trump repeating the claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him, a claim that violates YouTube’s policies on misinformation. The show’s co-hosts criticized the suspension, arguing that the policy, as enforced, is a threat to journalism on YouTube.
One of the co-hosts tweeted about it:
Robby Soave and Ryan Grim co-hosts Risinga daily morning news program for The hill, one of the country’s leading political newspapers. Last week, they discovered that their channel had been temporarily suspended due to two videos posted by the show that violated YouTube policies. The first video was direct footage of former President Trump’s speech to CPAC, in which he claimed the 2020 election was rigged against him. The second video included a clip of Trump telling Fox News’ Laura Ingraham that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine happened “because of a rigged election.”
“I understand that the platform would punish content creators who made false claims about the election,” Soave wrote. “I had no idea that YouTube would punish news channels for reporting the news.”
Any allegation that the 2020 election was rigged or fraudulent in any way is a direct violation of YouTube policies. In December 2020, YouTube announced that it would “begin removing any content…that misleads people into alleging that widespread fraud or error changed the outcome of the 2020 US presidential election.” The announcement went on to say that “media coverage and commentary” of the election would be permitted, as long as it contained “sufficient educational, documentary, scientific or artistic context.”
Soave argued in an article he later wrote for Raison (of which he is editor-in-chief) than by suspending Rising, YouTube had gone too far. The show’s inclusion of Trump’s claims, he explained, was for reporting purposes, not to support or lend credibility to those claims. Indeed, the animators had criticized the former president, calling him “a crook and ‘a real madman'” in the second video which caused them trouble.
The platform makes no distinction between the speaker and the content creator. If a channel produces a direct news video that simply shows Trump making an unsubstantiated election-related claim — perhaps during a speech, in an interview, or at a rally — YouTube would punish the channel as if the channel made the claim, even though no one affiliated with the channel endorsed Trump’s lies.
Robby Soave, “YouTube won’t distinguish between misinformation and news reports, so he’s suspended my channel,” at Raison
If enforced to that extent, writes Soave, the policy “effectively prohibits direct reporting on YouTube.”
Soave co-host Ryan Grim also posted an article criticizing the suspension, calling it “Kafkaesque” and pointing out the ineffectiveness of YouTube’s censorship attempts.
But YouTube’s approach reflects a general problem with Big Tech’s approach to censorship: It has nothing but contempt for the viewer. If we had paused to note that Trump’s rebuke of his election defeat was unfounded, what voter who previously believed that claim would be convinced by my simple rejection of it?…
De-platforming any mention of a “rigged election” did nothing to slow the theory down. Since YouTube and other platforms cracked down on Trump’s voter fraud nonsense in late 2020, the belief that the election was rigged has only grown, especially among Republicans.
Ryan Grim, “Big Tech’s Kafkaesque approach to censorship is driven by an ongoing disregard for its audience,” at The interception
Big Tech has been waging a war on disinformation for several years now, often through censorship, though experts have warned that censorship is ineffective and only makes things worse.
At the time of this writing, no Rising episodes dated beyond March 2 are on YouTube.
You can also read:
Royal Society: Don’t censor misinformation; It makes things worse. While others demand the suppression of “fake news”, the Society reminds us that the history of science is one of error correction. It is a fact that most of the information about COVID that was later thought to need to be corrected was actually provided by official sources, not blogs or Facebook or Twitter accounts. (Denyse O’Leary)
Big Tech Scrubs Religious YouTube radio show. This is not the first time that YouTube has violated freedom of expression. The radio show is hosted by the author of bestselling biographies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther. (Caitlin Bassett)