Germans went to the polls today to vote in a general election. YouTube announced in advance that it would be censoring any videos that depart from the official government line on the election results, including any speculation on what might have influenced the vote.
Many thanks to Hellequin GB for translating this article from Boris Reitschuster’s website:
YouTube announces censorship after the federal election
Google subsidiary continues to tighten thumbscrews
The video platform company YouTube, which belongs to the Google Group, has announced that it will adopt strict censorship after the general election on Sunday. Here is the wording of the explanation from YouTube, which many users have received — myself included:
Hello Boris Reitschuster,
We’ll also give you some up-to-date advice on YouTube’s guidelines, which deal with misinformation about elections. We will apply our guidelines on the legality of elections and election results to misinformation about the outcome of the federal election as soon as the final results have been confirmed by the federal returning officer.
Important information related to the Legality of Elections and Election Results Policy:
- Content that falsely claims that the outcome of the Bundestag election in Germany was influenced will be removed from YouTube. This applies to misinformation about the outcome of the Bundestag election, the formation of the new government or the election and appointment of the next Federal Chancellor.
- YouTube videos that refer to content with incorrect information about the election result outside of YouTube (e.g. on an external video platform) will also be removed.
- These guidelines only apply to videos uploaded to YouTube on or after the day on which the Federal Returning Officer confirms the final result.
- In order for creators to prepare for the change, videos that violate this policy will be removed within 30 days of the day the results are confirmed, but the associated channel will not receive a warning.
For more information about the Election Misinformation Policy, see this article in YouTube Help: Elections Misinformation Policy: YouTube Community Guidelines
That is remarkable and a new form of censorship. It weighs particularly heavily because, according to German jurisprudence, as a de facto monopoly, YouTube is bound to protect basic rights and is not allowed to censor freely based on a domiciliary right.
In the past, many elections in Germany resulted in mistakes and mishaps — as, ironically enough, you can find out from Google, of all places, which also includes YouTube. The guidelines are formulated very ambiguously: Does the description “widespread” only refer to cases of fraud, or also to errors and glitches?
Who decides whether claims about errors and glitches are “false” or not? Does YouTube have an instance of truth here? Tax-subsidized so-called “fact checkers”?
Where does “misinformation about the formation of the new government” begin?
And that the Federal Chancellor is “appointed”, as YouTube writes, is formally correct. In fact, an appointment is made by the Federal President — but only after the election by the Bundestag. And that is the only thing that matters. If YouTube restricts itself to the formal process of appointment, it sounds a bit like a lack of political education.
How does the staggering come about? At one point it is said that the new guideline only applies to videos on the first two days. Then there is talk of 30 days.
But it is part of censorship that its rules have to be vague.
Why is YouTube so nervous? Or, to be more precise, why are the forces to which YouTube is obedient (or not, rather, but real) so nervous? Politicians have repeatedly put pressure on social media to restrict freedom of expression. In particular through the “Network Enforcement Act”. Critics speak of a dangerous “deal”: Politicians accept the dubious monopoly position of the Internet giants, and in return for politics they would censor: Freedom of expression as a central element of the Basic Law is thus strangled via “outsourcing”.
Question after question.
See also PolitikStube: Sounds like nervousness? YouTube announces censorship AFTER the BTW [Bundestags Wahl, general election]