YouTube’s announcement that it will block or remove content alleging there was “widespread fraud or errors” during the U.S. presidential election is a “huge concern” for Australian democracy, according to Senator Alex Antic.
Popular Rebel News journalist Avi Yemini, has labelled the video-sharing giant’s move a “danger for Australia.”
On Dec. 9, the Google-owned YouTube announced on its official blog that it would remove content that “misleads people by alleging widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome” of the U.S. election.
“For example, we will remove videos claiming that a Presidential candidate won the election due to widespread software glitches or counting errors,” the statement read.
“We will begin enforcing this policy today, and will ramp up in the weeks to come,” it continued.
However, the outcome of the election is yet to be determined as multiple legal challenges remain, with many investigating the same alleged software glitches and counting errors that YouTube is working to stamp out.
The Epoch Times has not declared a winner of the election in light of the ongoing challenges.
South Australian Senator Antic said the election has underlined how much Australians rely on Big Tech firms such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook to “provide us with facts, news and opinions.”
“There is now enormous power to control the public discourse in the hands of a small number of organisations. It is a huge concern for Australian democracy,” he told The Epoch Times.
“The continued expansion of Big Tech and the way it operates risks restricting political viewpoints, will lead to a suppression of voices, increased polarisation, and bias,” he said. “Conservative voices cannot and should not be sidelined.”
The senator previously asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) during an Estimates hearing whether it was examining issues of censorship and shadow banning by the tech giants, particularly in light of the U.S. election.
The ACCC is currently rolling out new laws that will govern how Google and Facebook will compensate Australian news media publishers for content (which helps the tech and social media giants generate web traffic).
It is estimated 76 percent of Australians currently use YouTube, according to market research firm Roy Morgan.
Avi Yemini echoed Antic’s sentiments saying YouTube’s behaviour posed serious risks to Australia’s democratic institutions.
“The danger for Australia is YouTube applying similar tactics here to promote their political allies. This kind of behaviour can make or break (political) campaigns and determine leaders,” he told The Epoch Times.
“YouTube made it clear who they want to win the election and like much of the mainstream media their plan is to delegitimise and deplatform any voice that puts their candidate at risk,” he said.
He called for the video-sharing giant to be treated like a publisher and held to account for content that appears on the platform.
U.S. social media companies are currently protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which states that providers and users of an “interactive computer service” or social media service, will not be treated as a publisher and held liable for content on their platform.
Critics however claim these platforms actively moderate content, effectively making them publishers.
Antic said Australians currently have little recourse when content is “censored or restricted.”
“The government must do all it can to ensure that the integrity of our democracy remains intact and that includes an awareness of the role Big Tech plays in it.”