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Truthiness: Trump & YouTube

Truthiness: Trump & YouTube

Truthiness: Trump & YouTube

Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favor.
-Robert Frost The Black Cottage

It must have been a bit of a downer for the trump.  It came just three days before his acquittal of charges of misconduct that had been brought in the House and were being tried in the Senate where his acquittal by jellyfish-like  Republicans in the United States Senate was assured.  It came just the day before he was to make his  “trumpfant” State of the Union speech in which he would brag about his accomplishments and non-accomplishments with equal ease.  It came just 2 months after YouTube made it clear that it would not ban the trump’s misleading ads on YouTube about Joe Biden. 

It all happened when, in an earlier interview on 60 Minutes, Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, had been asked by Leslie Stahl, whether YouTube would continue to air a fake trump ad that attacked Joe Biden.  In response, Ms. Wojcicki said:  “So that is an ad that, um, right now would not be a violation of our policies.”   

It came less than three weeks after the trump had posted a photoshopped image of Senator Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wearing a turban and a headscarf respectively in front of an Iranian flag with an accompanying legend saying the image showed “the corrupted Dems trying their best to come to the Ayatollah’s rescue.”  Although that image had not been posted on YouTube it was the sort of fake image that the trump took delight in and that as the result of the new policies, may no longer be acceptable on YouTube. 

The downer for the trump was the announcement from YouTube that it planned to begin removing from its site misleading election content that can cause “serious risk of egregious harm.” According to a statement in a blog post from Leslie Miller, the vice president of government affairs and public policy at YouTube,  “Over the last few years, we’ve increased our efforts to make YouTube a more reliable source for news and information, as well as an open platform for healthy political discourse. . . . She said the policy would apply “without regard to a video’s political viewpoint.” 

Since by all accounts we now live in a world where misinformation  spreads quickly on the internet in the guise of “true facts,” the hope is that the new policy will slightly slow, if not stop, the spread of “fake” news.”  For the trump that has to come as something of a disappointment.

The report says the site will remove altered videos or videos that attempt to mislead readers about the voting process.  Ivy Choi, a YouTube spokesperson, said that a video’s content will determine whether a video is permitted to remain on the site or must be taken down.   

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The Washington Post, which is a follower of such things, reported that as of December 16, 2019, the trump has made 15,413 false or misleading claims since he was sworn in as president.  That comes to 14.6 such claims each day.   For a person who has grown accustomed to being dishonest multiple times on a daily basis, the news that one of the major channels for imparting such falsehoods to his adoring followers has to come as a shock and a disappointment.  It may almost seem as though the world is conspiring against him when it starts refusing to promote his lies. 

It is, of course, impossible to conjure up all the sorts of lies that the trump will no longer be able to promote.  A couple come to mind, thanks to the State of the Union message that he delivered to warm praise and applause from the spineless Republican multitude.

Referring to the “long, tall and very powerful wall” he was building,  he bragged about 100 miles already completed and over 500 miles to be completed in a very short time.  The latest U.S. Customs and Border Protection say new border wall construction has accounted for a total of 105 miles of which all but one mile was used to replace dilapidated barriers that were already in place.   Under the new policy that braggadocio as part of a political message might be deleted by YouTube.

Elsewhere in his speech, he said:  “We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.”  In fact, as pointed out by those fact-checking his speech, many of his actions have weakened or eliminated protections enjoyed by those with pre-existing conditions.  Among those efforts is the administration’s continued attempts to have the courts declare the Affordable Care Act that protects those with pre-existing conditions, unconstitutional.

The new YouTube policy may or may not make it more difficult for the trump to propagate his lies.  It will certainly offer a challenge to those at YouTube who are trying to make sure that their policies are faithfully adhered to.  By the time the election takes place they will probably, thanks to the trump, have been able to develop an approach determining what is and is not acceptable to post.  Don’t count on it.

Christopher Brauchli

Christopher Brauchli

Christopher Brauchli is a columnist and lawyer known nationally for his work. He is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Colorado School of Law where he served on the Board of Editors of the Rocky Mountain Law Review. He can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu. For political commentary see his web page at http://humanraceandothersports.com

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