1984 or Youtube?

Alan Cai

June 2, 2023

Double-think, a term coined by George Orwell in 1984, refers to the human state of having to accept two contradictory beliefs and accept both as true. The practice was employed by the dystopian society to subjugate its people and force them to believe any and all facts and falsehoods imposed upon them. Such a policy should be strictly relegated to fiction. Today, it has become a reality.

“When we craft our policies, we always keep two goals in mind: protecting our community, and providing a home for open discussion and debate” claimed Youtube in a statement made today in an attempt to justify its relaxation of curtailing the spread of the 2020 US presidential election misinformation. It is immediately evident that if such ideals served as the basis for Youtube's morality, it must have diverged greatly from its core beliefs in order to reach such a conclusion.

The false claims of fraud in the 2020 US presidential election neither “protect our community” nor “[provide] a home for open discussion and debate.” Youtube proceeded to suggest that the false election claims were “core to a functioning democratic society” and that it was obligated to do so in the midst of the 2024 presidential election season. The first amendment, which protects the freedom of speech, does not protect speech that poses a threat of “imminent lawless action” as interpreted by the Supreme Court in Brandenburg vs Ohio. Although Youtube is not a party of the government and is therefore not bound by such restrictions, it is still quite strange to assert that the right to spew election fraud claims is a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy; especially as we have seen that such false claims lead directly to violence against one of the most sacred institutions of any functioning democracy: the peaceful transition of power. As a consequential presidential election approaches, diminishing misinformation is key to ensuring that democracy is functional and citizens are able to reasonably select a leader to represent them through times of crisis.

The social media site continued to cite “today's changed landscape” and the new election cycle as reasons for the change. However, it is evident that so long as obsequious elements to extreme ideologies remain, the danger of violence will always loom over the horizon. In any meaningful metric, times have not changed since our nation’s capitol was violently raided by a malicious mob. The same people are reiterating the same lies in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of our elections.

By discontinuing its regulation of damaging content, Youtube is not only condoning blatant misbehavior and disregard for the rule of law but also implicitly encouraging it through its ignorance. It is indefensible for such a large corporation to put what is expedient over what is right and such actions committed warrant an immediate boycott of the media giant.