YouTube is letting a video containing misinformation about the election stay up on its platform without a fact-check or label noting that it is misinformation — exposing the limits of what the social media platforms are doing to counter the spread of potentially dangerous false claims about election results.
In a video posted to YouTube by far-right news organization One America News Network on Wednesday, an anchor says, “President Trump won four more years in office last night.” No credible outlet has yet called the election for either candidate. The video also baselessly claims that Democrats are “tossing Republican ballots, harvesting fake ballots, and delaying the results to create confusion.” The video had been viewed more than 340,000 times as of late Wednesday night on the East Coast.
While the video — like others related to the election — has a label on it saying results may not be final, YouTube said the video does not violate its rules and would not be removed. (YouTube has placed an information panel at the top of search results related to the election, as well as below any videos that talk about the election — whether they contain misinformation or not).
“Our Community Guidelines prohibit content misleading viewers about voting, for example content aiming to mislead voters about the time, place, means or eligibility requirements for voting, or false claims that could materially discourage voting. The content of this video doesn’t rise to that level,” said Ivy Choi, a YouTube spokesperson.
However, YouTube said it has stopped running ads on the video — while admitting the video has false information. “We remove ads from videos that contain content that is demonstrably false about election results, like this video,” Choi said.
The company said it did remove several livestreams on Election Day that violated its spam, deceptive practices and scams policies.
CNBC was the first to report on the video.
The informational panel says election “results may not be final,” It’s also taking similar measures to past elections, such as promoting content from authoritative news sources in search results.
The OAN anchor in the video shared the YouTube link to her personal Twitter account with the comment, “Trump won. MSM hopes you don’t believe your eyes.” Twitter said that according to its policy on Civic Integrity, the tweet isn’t eligible for a label indicating it might contain a premature call of election results because the original account has fewer than 100,000 followers and the tweet has not hit levels of engagement that would otherwise make it eligible. However, it was retweeted by OAN’s official account, which has 1.1 million followers.