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YouTube is facing criticism afresh as it fails to counter the massive misinformation campaign regarding the recent Myanmar elections. 

The criticism comes after YouTube failed to act in real-time regarding bogus claims about the US election, and only last week decided to remove content that is factually incorrect. Even with having regulations and a policy for the US election, the online platform has not done anything to curb similar waves of fake news and misinformation for the Asian country. 

Social media researchers and civil society groups in Myanmar say the uneven standard is emblematic of YouTube’s comparatively hands-off approach to election misinformation globally at a time when rival Facebook is taking more aggressive country-by-country measures.

“It looks like 2020 might be YouTube’s equivalent of Facebook’s 2016, holding on to hope that a universal approach might work, even when it’s clear that it’s not going to be the case,” said Evelyn Douek, a Harvard Law School lecturer who researches online speech.

YouTube did not respond to those criticisms but said it consistently enforced its guidelines and had deleted more than 1.8 million channels for policy violations in the third quarter of 2020, including more than 54,000 for hate speech.

Facebook, which faced accusations that it helped incite genocide in Myanmar in 2017, launched an unusual Myanmar-only civic misinformation policy ahead of the recent election, allowing it to remove false claims that could lead to voter suppression or otherwise damage the electoral process.

YouTube, by contrast, only has a light-touch approach and appeared to block false election claims that people complained about, or if the material otherwise violated its broader guidelines on hate speech and harassment.


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