YouTube pulls Jan. 6 committee clip over Trump election disinformation

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YouTube took down a clip uploaded by the Jan. 6 committee to the video platform, saying the video, which featured a clip of former president Donald Trump telling lies about the 2020 election, spread misinformation without the proper context.

The video was one of many uploaded by the House committee, which is investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, as a way to create an online record of its work and share it with a larger number of people.

The video featured former attorney general William P. Barr but also included a clip of a TV interview in which Trump said some of his votes had been given to Joe Biden. The video was short and didn’t include Barr or anyone else specifically calling out Trump’s statement as a lie.

“Our election integrity policy prohibits content advancing false claims that widespread fraud, errors or glitches changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, if it does not provide sufficient context,” YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi said. “We enforce our policies equally for everyone.”

In the wake of the 2020 election, YouTube changed its policies to ban claims that the election was fraudulent or stolen. In the days after Jan. 6, it banned Trump’s channel from the platform, an action that was also taken by Facebook and Twitter on their sites.

YouTube has for years been a key platform used to broadcast false claims about vaccines and election results. During the pandemic, the company began clamping down on disinformation about the coronavirus and the efficacy of vaccines. The 2020 election and the campaign by Trump and his supporters to have its results overturned forced the company to grapple even more with its role as a broadcast platform for false claims that may undermine people’s faith in elections.

The company’s leaders have said repeatedly they don’t want to act as political censors or gatekeepers and have tried to craft policies that they can enforce in a way that appears neutral. That appears to be the reasoning behind taking down the Jan. 6 committee’s clip.

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