YouTube is the latest internet giant to restore former President Donald Trump’s accounts. The Google-owned video service has lifted a ban on video uploads from Trump’s channel. YouTube says it made the decision after weighing the “continued risk” of violence versus the opportunity to hear from major political candidates. Trump will still be subject to the same policies as other users, the company says.
YouTube blocked uploads on Trump’s channel days after the January 6th, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by supporters hoping to overturn presidential election results. The site also deleted certain videos. It didn’t scrub the channel outright, however. Meta and Twitter were stricter, banning Trump entirely over concerns his statements might incite violent acts.
1/ Starting today, the Donald J. Trump channel is no longer restricted and can upload new content. We carefully evaluated the continued risk of real-world violence, while balancing the chance for voters to hear equally from major national candidates in the run up to an election.
— YouTubeInsider (@YouTubeInsider) March 17, 2023
Trump hasn’t posted any new videos to YouTube since the upload restriction disappeared. As a rule, he hasn’t used Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other services that have removed bans and other limits. He instead prefers to use his own Truth Social platform, where he has an agreement to give content at least a six-hour exclusive.
The change of heart comes soon after House Republicans unveiled plans to grill tech giants’ CEOs over content moderation policies. For years, conservatives have alleged that Google, Meta and other big-name brands censor right-wing views under the guise of fighting misinformation and hate speech. The companies have repeatedly denied these claims, and evidence has emerged that companies sometimes made policy exceptions for conservative outlets over fear of a backlash.
The derestrictions at this stage are more symbolic than practical. However, they illustrate the fine line YouTube and other internet heavyweights are trying to walk between free speech and the desire to keep potentially troublesome content away from their products.
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