Former President Donald Trump’s allies who challenged the veracity of his loss in the 2020 presidential election are declaring victory after one of the world’s largest video platforms announced it would no longer be removing content with misinformation questioning the result.
YouTube will reverse course on the election misinformation content moderation policy it established in 2020 to deplatform baseless claims and conspiracies about widespread fraud in that year’s elections, Axios reported Friday.
Owned by tech giant Google, YouTube will reportedly leave up content that says fraud, errors or glitches occurred in U.S. elections, the company confirmed to Axios, though it noted that its remaining policies banning content to purposefully mislead voters about dates and times to vote or other efforts to deceive voters would remain in effect.
The decision comes shortly after the company decided to reinstate Trump’s YouTube channel after its decision to remove him from the platform after the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot that many believe was largely ignited by his claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
In a statement to Axios, however, the company said the move represented larger concerns over “curtailing political speech without meaningfully reducing the risk of violence or other real-world harm.”
“Two years, tens of thousands of video removals, and one election cycle later, we recognized it was time to reevaluate the effects of this policy in today’s changed landscape,” YouTube said in a statement provided to Axios. “With that in mind, and with 2024 campaigns well underway, we will stop removing content that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches occurred in the 2020 and other past U.S. Presidential elections.”
However, there were ample others who saw the decision as a victory, opening the door for them to continue espousing conspiracy theories about rampant fraud in that year’s elections that have widely been debunked by elections officials and independent experts.
Ali Alexander—one of the key organizers of the Stop the Steal rally that preceded the riot—hailed the move as a victory for the movement, claiming in a social media post that “Stop the Steal prevails.”
Retired General Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser under Trump who has embraced numerous conspiracy theories challenging the integrity of that year’s elections, said YouTube—like many other “woke” organizations—was buckling under the “pain of reverse censorship.”
“We the people can move to other platforms,” he wrote on Twitter, a platform that had suspended his account until a controversial decision by owner Elon Musk to reinstate him in January.
Others noted the timing of the reversal, coming right as the 2024 presidential election cycle is beginning to heat up.
“It’s nice to see YouTube finally allowing free speech, but I can only assume it’s because the democrats are planning on losing in ’24 and want to be able to question the election without being silenced,” @Travis_in_Flint, a popular conservative Twitter user, wrote on the platform in response to the decision.