Friday, December 2, 2022

Youtube Misinformation and 2020 Election Aftermath


(2020 Election Candidates, Joe Biden & Donald Trump)

    Before the 2020 election occurred on November 3rd there was an uproar sweeping the nation that wreaked havoc across the internet, more specifically across the multi-billion dollar platform Youtube.  It all started when months prior to the election videos were posted that entailed false narratives about the upcoming election.  Spreading lies that attempted to belittle the candidates created a controversy that brought Youtube front and center for everyone to see how easily misinformation can spread even on one of the world's biggest platforms.  With a whopping 2.6 billion monthly users, this misinformation spread across the globe to all types of individuals.  The main issue for YouTube was that people claimed they were recommended fraudulent election videos from YouTube as they were watching and scrolling on the platform.  The problem with this is that no one knows whether this was on purpose or if it was the YouTube algorithm put in place to provide users videos that they may enjoy.  Either way YouTube is at fault in some way.  
    This misinformation continued throughout the 2020 election and turned into a small part of the population believing that Donald Trump won the election instead of Joe Biden who actually won the election both in the popular vote and electoral vote.  This created another uproar that swept across the nation causing misinformation to spread like wildfire across all platforms, especially Youtube.   Youtube content creators such as Alex Jones of Info Wars and Enrique Tarrio of the Proud Boys were one of the biggest instigators of misinformation.  Tarrio and multiple others apart of the Proud Boys channel later were indicted on charges of seditious conspiracy for allegedly planning the January 6th, 2021 attack on the capitol.  This attack on the capitol came after many anti-government groups did not accept Joe Biden as their president and decided to take matters into their own hands.  This again caused an uproar across the country that created more misinformation that spread across all platforms, especially Youtube.  There were many theories as to who these attackers actually were and why they decided to storm the capital but at the end of the day they were right-wing militias and extremist groups that had huge support for Donald Trump.

(US Capitol Rioters)

Youtube's Response

    In response to the problematic videos promoting nonsense on the 2020 election, Youtube tried to take down as many videos as possible.  A writer by the name of Michael Posner said that Youtube, "removed tens of thousands of videos for violating our U.S. elections-related policies, the majority before hitting 100 views.  In addition to this their systems actively point to high-authority channels and limit the spread of harmful misinformation for election-related topics."  Along with this there was an increase in jobs for moderators and reviewers to help Youtube take down misinformation across its platform.  
    Many nations called for more action from Youtube for their misinformation problem.  More than 80+ groups from 40+ countries sent a letter to Youtube in regard to their misinformation policies and issues.  In an article written by Daniel Milmo, Elena Hernandez who is a Youtube spokesperson stated that, "Over the years, we've invested heavily in policies and products in all countries we operate to connect people to authoritative content, reduce the spread of borderline misinformation, and remove violative videos, we've seen important progress, with keeping consumption of recommended borderline misinformation significantly below 1% of all views on Youtube, and only about 0.21% of all views are of violative content that we later remove.  We're always looking for meaningful ways to improve and will continue to strengthen our work with the fact checking community."  As you can see, Youtube has made a massive effort to control what is put out on the platform but as everything has its flaws, Youtube is no outlier.  

2022 Midterm Election


    After all the controversy preceding and following the 2020 presidential election there was much concern if the 2022 midterm election would have the same issues.  Youtube pledged that they would be very aggressive when it comes to taking down videos or anything on their platform that promoted false information about the midterm election.  They did an overall good job with this but with the average of 500 hours posted per minute on YouTube there was definitely going to be some misinformation that got past the moderators.  


    Youtube is one of the largest companies in the world that contributes daily to society and the individuals that use it.  They have tried what seems to be their best to stop the spread and use of misinformation on sensitive topics that affect the world and have done a decent job overall but there will always be some type of misinformation across the world especially on the Youtube's platform since it is one of the largest and fastest growing companies at the moment.  Although they have done a good job I do believe that they can do better with this matter.  Whether it be hiring more moderators to review content or creating an AI system that fact checks everything before someone can post a video.  Anything they can do to stop the spread of misinformation will be helpful in many ways.


AP News,

BBC News,


Forristal, Lauren. “Google, YouTube Outline Plans for the US Midterm Elections.” TechCrunch, 1 Sept. 2022,

Grant, Nico. “YouTube May Have Misinformation Blind Spots, Researchers Say.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 5 Nov. 2022, 

Martin, Rachel. “Exploring YouTube and the Spread of Disinformation.” NPR, NPR, 13 Apr. 2021,

Posner, Michael. “YouTube Amplifies Misinformation and Hatred, but Here's What We Can Do about It.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 21 June 2022,

“YouTube Is Major Conduit of Fake News, Factcheckers Say.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 12 Jan. 2022,


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