YouTube Clarifies Its Policies On Birther Conspiracy Content Nine Years After Trump Popularized The Barb

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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YouTube clarified Monday that the social media platform does not permit conspiracy theories questioning whether a political candidate or elected official is eligible to serve in office.

The company made the clarification in a blog post ahead of Monday’s Iowa caucuses.

YouTube listed as an example of rule violations, content “that advances false claims related to the technical eligibility requirements for current political candidates and sitting elected government officials to serve in office, such as claims that a candidate is not eligible to hold office based on false information about citizenship status requirements to hold office in that country.”

YouTube instituted such policies since the 2016 election, when then-presidential candidate Donald Trump promoted the theory that former President Barack Obama was born in Africa.

YouTube is also banning so-called deepfake videos, which effectively alter video images in such a way as to cause people to question their perception of a candidate or person. The company also nixed content that aims to mislead viewers about voting procedures.

Trump frequently expressed skepticism about Obama’s citizenship leading up to the 2016 election. He only acknowledged his predecessor’s citizenship during the final stages of his campaign. (RELATED: ‘Abhorrent’: Advertisers Bail On YouTube After Pedophiles Flood Platform’s Comment Section)

The president’s decision in 2011 to make Obama’s birth place a point of public discussion angered former First Lady Michelle Obama, who wrote in her 2018 memoir that she will never forgive Trump for promoting the conspiracy theory.

Former US First Lady Michelle Obama meets Vietnamese students in Can Giuoc district, Long An province on December 9, 2019. - Michelle Obama and Julia Roberts visit to promote girls' education in Vietnam. (Photo by NHAC NGUYEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Former first lady Michelle Obama (NHAC NGUYEN/AFP via Getty Images)

“The whole [birther] thing was crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed. But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks,” Obama wrote in her post-White House book, “Beginning.”

“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,” Leslie Miller, the vice president of YouTube’s government affairs and public policy, wrote in Monday’s blog post.

YouTube’s clarification comes as Democrats criticize Facebook for not removing a doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which appeared to show the California Democrat slurring her words at a press conference that year. The 2019 video was slowed down to make her appear drunk.

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