YouTube takes down livestreams with fake election results


YouTube took down videos with fake election results.

Angela Lang/CNET

This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET’s coverage of the run-up to voting in November.

YouTube on Tuesday said it took down multiple videos that livestreamed fake election results, hours before polls closed anywhere in the country. 

The videos streamed the false results to thousands of viewers before they were deleted by the world’s largest video platform, which is owned by Google. Some of the videos ran advertisements, which means their creators were able to make money off of the content. 

“After careful review, we are removing livestreams that violate our Community Guidelines,” a YouTube spokesman said in a statement. “We have established policies prohibiting spam, deceptive practices & scams, and we continue to be vigilant with regards to election-related content in the lead-up and post-election period.”

While YouTube has sought to prioritize videos from mainstream news networks, some of the videos that streamed the fake results belonged to channels dedicated to music, according to screenshots of the streams posted to Twitter. YouTube responded to the tweet saying it took down the videos. 

The screenshots showed one of the channels, called Wicked Sounds, has 1.48 million subscribers. The channel’s administrator didn’t immediately return a request for comment. 

At least three of the videos taken down were monetized, according to the website Insider, which earlier reported the news. The videos appeared when users searched for election results on the platform, the website said.

The video takedowns come as YouTube and other tech giants sought to curb misinformation related to the US presidential election. Social Valley companies including Google, Facebook and Twitter have been eager to prove they could avoid the mistakes they made in 2016, when that election was marred by interference by Russian agents that exploited big tech platforms. 

The livestreams with the fake results came even as YouTube on Tuesday began showing special information panels below videos about the election, as well as certain search results pages for election-related queries. “Results may not be final,” the text of the panel reads. “See the latest on Google.”

In September, YouTube said it would show people information panels on mail-in voting when they watch videos that discuss the subject. The ballot-casting method has become fraught with misinformation as President Donald Trump has tried to discredit the process, while providing no evidence of security flaws in the time-tested system.

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