YouTube Lifts Ban on Free Speech Questioning U.S. Presidential Elections

Originally published June 2, 2023 8:00 pm PDT

In a significant update, YouTube announced on Friday that it will adjust its approach to content that discusses the 2020 and other past US Presidential elections, responding to the need to balance open discussion with the protection of its community.

The change aims to ensure that YouTube continues to be a “home for open discussion and debate.”

The decision to adjust the policy comes as the company recognizes the evolving landscape and the value of diverse perspectives.

“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,” the press release notes.

In this spirit, YouTube is striving to avoid curtailing political speech while still assessing its potential real-world effects.

Expressing commitment to the principles of a democratic society, YouTube emphasizes that “the ability to openly debate political ideas, even those that are controversial or based on disproven assumptions, is core to a functioning democratic society — especially in the midst of election season.”

While the platform is adjusting its stance on content related to past elections, it assures that a robust policy framework will continue to ensure that accurate and reliable information is prominent.

“We are ensuring that when people come to YouTube looking for news and information about elections, they see content from authoritative sources prominently in search and recommendations,” the press release states.

Additionally, the company affirms that existing policies, including those prohibiting content that misleads voters about voting procedures or that promotes hate speech, harassment, or incitement to violence, will remain in place.

The policy adjustment is effective from today, June 2.

YouTube concluded by reiterating its commitment to the democratic process, saying: “We know citizens take the integrity of the democratic process incredibly seriously, and so do we. We’ll remain vigilant as the election unfolds, as we did in 2020, and again in 2022.”