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YouTube Suspends News Show for Reporting on Misinformation

The show's host has accused YouTube of failing to "distinguish between misinformation and reporting"

Last week, YouTube suspended a popular daily news show from The Hill for including in its 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 co-hosts of the show have criticized the suspension, arguing that the policy, as enforced, is a threat to journalism on YouTube.

One of the co-hosts posted about it on Twitter:

Robby Soave and Ryan Grim co-host Rising, a daily morning news show for The Hill, one of the country’s leading political newspapers. Last week, they discovered that their channel had been temporarily suspended based on two videos that the show posted that had violated YouTube’s policies. The first video was straight footage of former President Trump’s speech at CPAC, in which he claimed that 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 statements about the election,” wrote Soave. “I had no idea that YouTube would punish news channels for reporting the news.”

Any kind of claim that the 2020 election was rigged or fraudulent in any way is in direct violation of YouTube’s policies. In December 2020, YouTube announced that they would “start removing any piece of content… that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.” The announcement went on to clarify that “news coverage and commentary” of the election would be permissible, so long as it contained “sufficient education, documentary, scientific or artistic context.”

Soave argued in an article he later wrote for Reason (for which he is a senior editor) that 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 give credibility to those claims. In fact, the hosts had criticized the former President, referring to him “as a fraudster and ‘an actual madman'” in the second video that got them in trouble.

The platform makes no distinction between the speaker and the content creator. If a channel produces a straight-news video that merely shows Trump making an unfounded election-related claim – perhaps during a speech, in an interview, or at a rally – YouTube would punish the channel as if the channel had made the claim, even if no one affiliated with the channel endorsed Trump’s lies.

Robby Soave, “YouTube Won’t Distinguish Between Misinformation and Reporting, So It Suspended My Channel,” at Reason

If enforced to this extent, writes Soave, the policy “effectively outlaws straight news reporting on YouTube.”

Soave’s co-host, Ryan Grim, also published an article criticizing the suspension, calling it “Kafkaesque,” and pointing to the ineffectiveness of YouTube’s censorship attempts.

But YouTube’s approach reflects a broad 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 gripe about his election loss 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” hasn’t done anything to slow the theory down. Since YouTube and other platforms cracked down on Trump’s election fraud nonsense in late 2020, the belief that the election was rigged has only grown, particularly among Republicans.

Ryan Grim, “Big Tech’s Kafkaesque Approach to Censorship Is Driven by an Abiding Contempt for Its Audience,” at The Intercept

Big Tech has been waging a war against misinformation for several years now, often going about it through censorship, even though experts have warned that censorship is ineffective and only makes things worse.

As of this writing, no Rising episodes dated beyond March 2 are on YouTube.


You may also want to read:

Royal Society: Don’t Censor Misinformation; It Makes Things Worse. While others demand crackdowns on “fake news,” the Society reminds us that the history of science is one of error correction. It’s a fact that much COVID news later thought to need correction was in fact purveyed by official sources, not blogs or Facebook or Twitter accounts. (Denyse O’Leary)

and

Big Tech Scrubs Religious Radio Show from YouTube. This isn’t the first time YouTube has infringed on free speech. The radio show is hosted by the author of bestselling biographies on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther. (Caitlin Bassett)


Caitlin Bassett

Caitlin Bassett was a Policy Analyst and Communications Liaison for the Center for Science & Culture and the Center on Wealth & Poverty. Her main areas of focus are in Big Tech and its impact on human freedom, as well as homelessness and mental illness. In her free time, she enjoys delving into Lewis and Tolkien, cosmology, and running around historical sites on the East Coast. She graduated from Liberty University in 2017 with her Bachelor’s in Politics and Policy.

YouTube Suspends News Show for Reporting on Misinformation