After years of warnings that YouTube is fostering the political radicalisation of a generation by allowing debunked conspiracy theory content to thrive on its platform, the biggest streaming video site on the web seems to be feeling a little jumpy. Following the Wednesday attack by rioters on Capitol Hill, YouTube says it will be taking a less forgiving approach to users who spread disinformation.
Donald Trump’s decision to fire up a crowd of thousands of supporters to descend on the congressional session to certify the presidential election has thrown social media companies into panic mode. YouTube first responded by removing a video the president posted in which he made false claims about the election and praised the people responsible for a riot that left four people dead and constituted the first breach of the Capitol since the War of 1812.
Now, YouTube says any user who violates its Presidential Election Integrity Policy will receive an automatic first strike on their channel. The offending video will be removed, and the user will be blocked from uploading new videos or live streaming for one week. If the user receives three strikes, they’ll be permanently banned from YouTube.
In December, YouTube implemented its new election policy in response to the growing cesspool of disinformation claiming the race was stolen from Trump. Originally, the policy included a grace period in which users would receive a warning before the strike process began. The grace period was planned to expire on January 21st, the day after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. In a statement today, the company said that “due to the disturbing events that transpired yesterday, and given that the election results have now been certified” it’s ending the grace period early.
President Trump has been quiet today, though his temporary suspension from Twitter has been lifted. Twitter is his favoured platform but the company warned if the president violates its policies again, he will be banned permanently. In the last 24 hours, we’ve also seen Trump banned from Facebook indefinitely, locked out of Snapchat, and suspended from Twitch. By all accounts, he can still launch a nuclear weapon.