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How might Big Tech’s changes on misinformation policies influence the elections? This approach might shape the 2024 political landscape

In the run-up to the 2024 political cycle, several prominent technology companies are adjusting their policies on misinformation, specifically in relation to COVID-19 vaccines and unfounded election claims. These alterations, particularly those implemented by YouTube and Meta, are generating discussions about political discourse and the propagation of misleading information.

On June 2nd, YouTube confirmed a policy reversal on election misinformation. The platform, via a blog post, stated it would no longer remove content that “advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches occurred in the 2020 and other past US Presidential elections.” YouTube’s rationale was that maintaining its old policy might have the “unintended effect of curtailing political speech without meaningfully reducing the risk of violence or other real-world harm.” The previous policy had been put in place in 2020, following the loss of Donald Trump in the presidential election.

Concurrently, Meta, the parent entity of Facebook and Instagram, is transitioning to a new strategy. The company has reinstated the Instagram account of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an activist against vaccination, who had been barred in 2021 due to his anti-vaccine content. According to a spokesperson for Meta, the account was reinstated because “he is now an active candidate for president of the United States.” However, it remains uncertain whether Meta will revise its misinformation policies for other high-profile individuals.

Twitter has also witnessed a series of changes recently. Despite accusations of content censorship influenced by foreign governments, the “free speech”-focused policies pledged by Elon Musk appear to have left a significant mark. As Axios reported, the company ceased the enforcement of its COVID misinformation policy in November of the previous year, reactivated the accounts of notable election denialists in January, and rescinded its policies against misgendering individuals in April.

Critics argue that these alterations may magnify deceptive narratives, while advocates for free speech are in favor of promoting more discourse and fact-checking. As social media corporations balance misinformation management and free expression, the landscape continues to evolve, potentially affecting the dynamics of the 2024 elections.

Donald Wolfe

Donald’s writings have appeared in HuffPost, Washington Examiner, The Saturday Evening Post, and The Virginian-Pilot, among other publications. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia. He is the Virginian Tribune's Publisher.

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