One of the biggest worries of the 2020 presidential and congressional election season is that surrogates of candidates, their vociferous supporters online, or even candidates themselves could spread fake and malicious information in order to win their respective campaigns.
Social media sites are taking different tactics when it comes to combatting fake or misleading media. Twitter announced last fall that it would ban all political advertising rather than try to determine which ads are meaningful and which ones lack reliable information, the New York Times reported.
On Monday, YouTube announced it, too, would be proactive in taking down content that sought to misinform voters.
According to reporting from The Daily Beast, YouTube plans to ban “birther” videos or any other content that wrongly puts into doubt a candidate’s eligibility to run for office. The social video site would also ban “deepfake” videos, a new technology that allows a person to transpose a public figure’s face onto theirs to make it appear that figure is acting in a certain way or saying certain things that they never actually did or say.
Videos that mislead viewers about information regarding voting itself — such as lying about what day Election Day will be on — will also be banned.
Isn’t this about a decade too late? YouTube has made clear “birtherism” will be banned from its platform during this year’s U.S. presidential election. https://t.co/UVljAhnUtN
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) February 3, 2020
The new policies don’t just apply to campaigns and voting. YouTube also announced it would not tolerate misinformative videos relating to the 2020 Census.
The decision by YouTube comes as the video site worries about threats to democracy both at home and abroad. YouTube said in its blog post announcing the new policies that it would work to “combat foreign and domestic coordinated influence operations looking to interfere in electoral processes.”
President Donald Trump famously attacked former President Barack Obama, calling into question innumerable times the legitimacy of Obama’s birth in the United States.
Trump later admitted that Obama was indeed born in the U.S. during the 2016 presidential campaign, NPR reported at the time, but did not apologize to the former president for the hateful campaign against his character, nor did he accept responsibility for disseminating “birtherism” to the masses.