Earlier this month, YouTube decided it would “stop removing content that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches occurred in the 2020 and other past US Presidential elections.”
That policy–a significant departure from YouTube’s previous crowing about how committed it is to preventing the spread of election misinformation–is now under fire from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
“We write to express our deep disappointment in YouTube’s recent decision to reverse its election misinformation policy regarding the 2020 election cycle,” Reps. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) wrote in an open letter to Alphabet/Google CEO Sundar Pichai and YouTube CEO Neal Mohan.
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“While you claim that taking such action is ‘core to a functioning democratic society,’ we emphatically disagree. Not only is this decision extremely irresponsible, but, in fact, it threatens to weaken our democracy, and therefore we strongly urge you to reconsider this harmful policy decision,” the representatives wrote.
They added that they are concerned about how YouTube will handle misinformation about the upcoming 2024 presidential election, and asked that YouTube “provide a detailed description of how [it] plans to fact check, label, provide context around, or reduce the spread of such content on its platform.”
It wants that detailed description by July 6.
We asked YouTube about its plans for the 2024 election earlier this month. It declined to comment. A spokesperson said it will “have more details to share about our approach towards the 2024 election in the months to come.”
The committee also asked YouTube to provide (again by July 6) a “detailed explanation” of how misinformation about 2020’s election and previous elections does not violate its policies, “given that election misinformation has led to voter suppression efforts in the United States and has been found to erode confidence in the democratic process.”
YouTube has not issued a public reply to the letter.