YouTube to remove new videos falsely claiming widespread fraud changed the outcome of the election

(Image credit: Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

YouTube is set to start taking down false claims that widespread fraud altered the 2020 election outcome — over a month following Election Day.

The company on Wednesday said that because "enough states have certified their election results to determine a president-elect," it will now "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 race. President-elect Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, but President Trump hasn't conceded and continues to level baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud, which his attorney general has said the Justice Department has found no evidence to support.

YouTube previously faced criticism for not taking down false claims about the 2020 election, such as when it left up a video from the far-right One America News Network uploaded on Nov. 4 that falsely asserted Trump won. By that point, there was no projected winner yet, and the video claimed that Trump carried some states that news networks had already projected for Biden. YouTube told CNBC at the time it prohibits "content misleading viewers about voting," but it said the video "doesn't rise to that level." On Nov. 12, YouTube also responded to a tweet flagging a video from One America News claiming "Trump won" by saying, "We're allowing these videos because discussion of election results & the process of counting votes is allowed on" the site.

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In Wednesday's announcement, YouTube explained it will now be treating the 2020 race as a "historical" election rather than a "current" one and will, for instance, remove videos "claiming that a presidential candidate won the election due to widespread software glitches or counting errors." News coverage or commentary with enough "education, documentary, scientific or artistic context" can stay, however. The policy will start being enforced on Wednesday, and CNN's Brian Fung noted that it "could have a big impact on Trump and right-wing channels."

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