YouTube Says It Took Down Fake Election Day Result Livestreams as Disinformation Runs Rampant on Social Media
Twitter obscured several posts by Donald Trump, including a claim that Democrats were "trying to steal the election." That tweet led to the hashtag #StopTheSteal becoming widely circulated by accounts sharing additional false claims.
As misinformation and disinformation plague Election Day, YouTube said it took a hard stance and took down multiple videos that livestreamed fake election results. The videos had been streaming fake results to thousands of viewers hours before the polls had even closed anywhere in the U.S, according to YouTube.
"We have established policies prohibiting spam, deceptive practices and scams, and we continue to be vigilant with regards to election-related content in the lead-up and post-election period," YouTube said in a statement.
Not only were the videos streaming fake information to potential voters, many of the videos ran advertisements, which means the video’s creators had attempted to profit off the content, according to CNET.
“We checked with YouTube and these videos were monetized, so these companies were able to actually make money off the viewers,” Roger Cheng, executive editor of CNET News, told Inside Edition Digital. “[They had] thousands, if not tens of thousands of live viewers, really getting a lot of traffic and being able to make money.”
Additionally, one of the accounts streaming the fake results had nearly 1.5 million subscribers, Cheng said. None of the accounts had any particular political affiliations, INSIDER found.
“Information has been a huge problem on all social media platforms and YouTube has been no exception,” Cheng said. “I don’t know if this was part of some sort of wider misinformation campaign. It could be that these channels were looking to make a quick buck and an easy way to do that is advertise election results. It’s interesting they used Election Day to try to capitalize.”
Meanwhile on Twitter, the hashtag #StopTheSteal became widely circulated after President Donald Trump claimed Democrats would be “trying to steal the election.” Twitter obscured the tweet and added two disclaimers for users who choose to click in and read the post. The social media organization also obscured several other tweets Trump shared on Election Day. "Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process," the disclaimer read.
A viral video of a poll watcher, believed to be affiliated with the Trump campaign, allegedly being banned from entering a polling place in Philadelphia was also shared widely on Twitter. He appeared to be showing papers that proved he could enter the site, but one of the poll workers could be heard telling him, “it’s not for this location.”
A spokesperson from the Philadelphia City of Commissioners said the video showed an isolated incident, and stemmed from confusion over whether he was assigned to one particular site or could roam the city. Ultimately, the poll watcher was admitted in.
The video, however, took off, with various influential right-winged Twitter accounts and politicians alike adding unverified information surrounding the incident. Mike Roman, who was in charge of Trump’s Election Day operations, claimed on Twitter without evidence that incidents of Republican poll watchers being turned away by “DEMOCRAT ELECTION OFFICIALS” were happening all over Philadelphia.
Donald Trump Jr. retweeted a post claiming that the Philadelphia City Commissioner Lisa Deeley was ordered to “do the right thing” in favor of the Democrats that included no attribution, except for claiming that “several reporters are chasing down [the] story.”
Steve Bannon also shared the incident on his podcast. Raheem Kassam, former editor-in-chief of Breitbart News London, who appeared on Bannon’s podcast on Election Day, then additionally claimed voting locations across Philadelphia had banners hung up inside the polling locations encouraging voters to vote Democrat. Kassam called for photo evidence of his claim to be shown. The conversation moved on, and such photos were not ultimately shown.
Additionally, Twitter-verified reporter Carmine Sabia, who has bylines in fringe conservative outlets, tweeted without evidence that certain polling places in “the Republican part of Pennsylvania” were closed. He also later claimed, without showing any evidence, that the delay in counting ballots is a result of additional votes being fabricated.
“I do not trust ballots that come out of nowhere,” he tweeted.
Officials across the country have said repeatedly that delays were expected as more voters than ever submitted their ballots by mail as a measure to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
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