A group of Democratic lawmakers called Tuesday for YouTube to crack down on election-related misinformation on its platform amid tightly contested runoff races in Georgia that will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.
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In a letter to YouTube, Democratic Senators Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Gary Peters of Michigan and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota called on the video streaming platform to detail the steps it is taking to combat misinformation. Both of Georgia’s Senate seats are up for grabs in the Jan. 5 vote.
“We write to express our deep concern regarding the proliferation of misinformation on your platform during and immediately following the 2020 elections and in light of the upcoming Georgia run-off elections,” they wrote. “We urge you to immediately remove all election outcome misinformation and take aggressive steps to implement prohibitions, as other social media companies have done, regarding outcomes in future elections.”
The senators asserted that YouTube allowed the spread of videos that falsely questioned the legitimacy of 2020 election results by failing to “prohibit users from posting false content on the outcome of the election. The Democrats warn that the spread of further “misinformation and manipulated media content” on YouTube “may fuel civil unrest” amid the Trump campaign’s ongoing legal challenge of election results.
The lawmakers asked YouTube to respond to a series of questions related to its enforcement policies by Dec. 8, including whether it would commit to remove content that makes false claims about election outcomes and the amount of ad revenue YouTube received from videos that contained “election result misinformation.”
“YouTube and its industry peers must take responsibility and immediately stop the spread of misinformation and manipulated media on their platforms,” the letter added.
YouTube representative Ivy Choi confirmed that the Alphabet-owned company received the letter. Choi noted that 88% of videos in YouTube’s top 10 results come from authoritative news sources.
YouTube has made a number of policy changes to prevent the spread of misinformation on its platform in recent years and says it promotes content from authoritative news outlets in search results.
“Our teams are working around the clock to quickly remove content that violates our policies and ensure that we are connecting people with authoritative information about elections,” Choi said in a statement. “Our panels linking to Google’s election results feature -- which we display on our homepage, on videos and in searches -- have collectively been shown billions of times."