Following the 2020 presidential election, Fox News has frequently posted videos on YouTube containing misinformation about voting or election results. The network, which YouTube inexplicably uses as an “authoritative” source for election-related information, has been a consistent source and amplifier of false stories about voter fraud, disputing the election results and claiming Democrats are attempting to steal the election.
On October 27, YouTube joined Facebook and Twitter in releasing its strategy on combating voting misinformation around Election Day. The platform included Fox News as an “authoritative” source despite the network's history of spreading misinformation about mail-in ballots and the election in general. YouTube pledged that it would “continue to elevate authoritative sources, including news publishers like CNN and Fox News, for election-related news and information queries in search results and ‘watch next’ panels.” Based on the amount of election-related misinformation uploaded to three of Fox’s YouTube channels from election night through November 12, the decision to consider Fox as an “authoritative” appears even more puzzling.
Media Matters reviewed the 25 videos uploaded to Fox’s three YouTube channels -- Fox News, NewsNOW from Fox and Fox Business -- for election-related content posted from November 3-12 and found that 60% of the videos (15 out of 25) included misinformation about voting, the election results, or outright conspiracy theories about either. These 15 videos garnered a total of 20.9 million views as of November 12.
The video with the most views -- almost 2.7 million as of November 12 -- was an Election Day interview of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Fox Business, prior to his permanent suspension on Twitter for advocating violence against U.S. officials. Bannon also alleged mass voter suppression and fraud took place on Election Day and asserted that Trump should announce his victory on the night of November 3. This misinformation-heavy interview continued to circulate on YouTube even after Bannon himself was barred from streaming on the platform for a period of time.
Here are some of the other findings from a review of the top 25 videos from Fox News' channels on YouTube:
- Fox News' primary YouTube channel posted 15 of the top 25 videos (60%) in our review, 8 of which contained misinformation (53%). These 8 videos accumulated around 9.39 million views as of November 12.
- NewsNOW from Fox posted 8 videos (32%), 6 (75%) of which contained misinformation. The videos with misinformation amassed approximately 8.84 million views as of November 12.
- Fox Business posted 2 videos (8%) within the top 25 videos, 1 of which contained misinformation. This video was also the most-viewed video in our analysis with 2.7 million views.
Even when Fox News' channels don't post misinformation directly, clips from Fox News programming are regularly circulated by other channels to spread right-wing talking points and misleading content.
Given the amount of misinformation posted by Fox News channels during and after the election, the continued amplification of Fox News as an “authoritative” source on YouTube is irresponsible and dangerous.