YouTube Is Taking Down Raw Footage From The Capitol Riot As It Tries To Crack Down On Misinformation

YouTube Is Taking Down Raw Footage From The Capitol Riot As It Tries To Crack Down On Misinformation

Top line

YouTube removed two videos by independent journalists documenting the riots in the Capitol, including one from a progressive news agency. This leads to frustration that Google’s own company’s efforts to combat right-wing misinformation are harming bona fide journalism.

Videos from the Capitol uploaded by an independent journalist and progressive news agency … [+] got caught up in YouTube’s efforts to clean up its platform (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Key factors

YouTube on Wednesday removed a video from the progressive news agency’s Status Coup showing a Capitol police officer being knocked down by rioters in a door that has since been licensed by CNN and the Guardian, the Daily Dot reported for the first time.

YouTube also recorded a video by independent journalist Ford Fischer, who uploaded footage of former President Donald Trump’s speech and the reaction of the crowd before rioters stormed the Capitol – a pivotal moment in Trump’s impeachment complaint.

In notices to both channels, YouTube stated that “content that makes false claims that widespread fraud, error or disruption changed the outcome of the 2020 US presidential election is not allowed on YouTube”.

Both Fischer and Status Coup co-founder Jordan Chariton told Forbes they were baffled and angry that YouTube couldn’t tell the difference between raw footage designed to document a historical event and conspiracy theorists who purposely promote misinformation about the election .

It’s unclear whether the YouTube algorithm falsely tagged both videos, but in a series of tweets the company said Fischer’s videos “do not contain conflicting views or adequate context of the claims made in the footage,” and then demonized his entire account. (YouTube didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes and didn’t publicly respond to the Coup status.)

However, this policy does not appear to be enforced against news outlets like NBCNews and Telegraph, who uploaded raw material of the speech with no additional coverage or context, according to the Daily Dot.

Key background

After the election, YouTube was criticized for moving more slowly than other platforms in fighting misinformation in elections. It was only in December that it was decided to ban content that contested the election result. And after the January 6 attack caused by conspiracy theories about the elections, both Twitter and Facebook have banned Trump indefinitely, while it took Youtube a week to announce a suspension. Even so, all of the major social media networks have outraged Republicans and other critics who say that big tech has too much control over the internet. Some have already warned that raids could lead to unintended consequences.

Main critic

YouTube’s handling of the Status Coup has led Chariton to consider how tech companies deal with misinformation. After the attack on the Capitol, Chariton believed that outlets promoting conspiracy theories should be “taken out of thin air.” But now he says that those who “do not directly encourage violence” have the right to “spit out misinformation and / or conspiracies disguised as journalism”. “There are no Silicon Valley platforms that openly make decisions to avoid having rules algorithmically dictating what is and isn’t trustworthy news,” he said.

Fischer said his video of the crowd singing “Fight for Trump” before the attack was critical to the public as Trump would stand trial in the Senate for instigating the uprising. Jay Ulfelder, a collaborator at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard, wrote in an email to YouTube that Fischer’s videos also serve as vital archival material for future scientists who want a better sense of what happened than ours Make data or other news sources available. “


This is not the first time that YouTube takes action against Fischer and Status Coup. In 2019, Fischer was demonized in a crackdown on Holocaust denialism after two of his videos were removed. The first featured pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel protesters hitting a Holocaust denier at this year’s American Israel Public Affair Committee conference. The other was raw material from a speech by neo-Nazi Mike Peinovich Enoch. Fischer didn’t advertise the views shown in the footage, but it still took seven months for YouTube to monetize his channel again. Meanwhile, Status Coup had a livestream of a rally of the Second Amendment, which was suspended last month for violating YouTube’s guns policy.