YouTube lifts ban of Donald Trump from the Jan. 6 riot

YouTube said Friday that it lifted restrictions it had placed on Donald Trump’s account, the latest social media service to reinstate full access for the former president in a very public and high-stakes test for the platforms ahead of next year’s US presidential election.

“We carefully evaluated the continued risk of real-world violence, balancing that with the importance of preserving the opportunity for voters to hear equally from major national candidates in the run up to an election,” Leslie Miller, YouTube’s vice-president of public policy, said in a statement. “This channel will continue to be subject to our policies, just like any other channel on YouTube.”

Two years ago, many tech companies moved to curtail Trump’s presence online after a violent mob of supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Trump, accused of inciting the riot, had already been using mainstream platforms as a megaphone to engage his followers and at times, spread misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic and the US presidential elections. He’s currently campaigning to return to the White House.

YouTube had prevented Trump from uploading new videos after his account aired his first address to reporters following the insurrection. In the video, Trump said the speech he had made at a rally before his supporters rioted was “totally appropriate” and that the moves by Congress to impeach him were “causing tremendous anger.” Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook had also placed limits on Trump’s account, while Twitter enacted a permanent ban at the time.

But in recent months, the social media services have removed the restrictions and said they would instead watch Trump’s account activity more closely. Meta said Trump would be subject to “heightened penalties for repeat offenses” on Facebook. Twitter, under new Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, reversed Trump’s ban completely after conducting a poll of users.

YouTube, for its part, said it had always intended to lift its restrictions when it determined a the risk of real-world violence related to Trump’s account had reduced. The company said it constantly monitors emerging issues and violent rhetoric across platforms and government security alerts.

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