Update (3/25/23): After the publication of this article, Trump’s account appeared to have pulled down the stream before the rally aired, with the broken link to the stream stating, “This video has been removed by the uploader.”
Former President Donald Trump has scheduled a YouTube livestream for his first official 2024 presidential campaign rally in Waco, Texas — the first since the platform reinstated his account on March 17. Given that Trump continues to regularly push the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen, he’s likely to violate the platform’s policies against such misinformation in this upcoming rally.
YouTube is the latest social media platform to reinstate Trump’s account after suspending him following the January 6, 2021, insurrection. Twitter CEO Elon Musk reinstated the former president on Twitter on November 19, 2022, after conducting an unreliable and unscientific Twitter poll. Meta followed suit, allowing him back on Facebook and Instagram on February 9 after making the flawed assessment that Trump’s risk to public safety had “sufficiently receded.”
YouTube claimed to have “carefully evaluated the continued risk of real-world violence” when making its decision. But less than a day later, Trump took to his social media platform Truth Social to announce that he expected Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office to indict and arrest him the following Tuesday, March 21, telling his followers to “PROTEST” and TAKE OUR NATION BACK.” The posts came while a Manhattan grand jury heard testimony as part of an ongoing investigation into Trump allegedly paying hush money to adult film actor Stormy Daniels in 2016 over an alleged affair.
Trump has continued to attack Bragg, warning of “potential death & destruction” should he be criminally charged by Bragg’s office. If Trump invokes similar attacks during his rally in Waco, he will seemingly violate YouTube’s policy banning “content encouraging others to commit violent acts.”
While YouTube’s commitment to preventing the spread of election misinformation is limited, the platform does prohibit content that advances “false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches occurred in … past U.S. presidential elections,” including the 2020 election. If Trump pushes such misinformation during his livestreamed rally, then he will likely be violating this policy as well.
YouTube reinstated Trump’s accounts knowing that the former president has continued to push election misinformation and other harmful content, including at rallies and on Truth Social.
Trump has amplified 2020 election misinformation at his rallies and other speaking events
- During his first rally for the 2022 midterms in Florence, Arizona, Trump reportedly claimed to have had a “tremendous victory” in Arizona “that was taken away,” adding that “we had a rigged election and the proof is all over the place. They always talk about the Big Lie — they’re the Big Lie.” (Trump lost Arizona to Joe Biden in 2020.)
- In April 2022, Trump reportedly told the crowd at a rally in Michigan that “we did win,” adding, “I ran twice, we won twice, and we did much better the second time than the first. … Now, we may have to do it again.”
- During Trump’s official 2024 presidential campaign launch, he continued giving credence to conspiracy theories about the trustworthiness of the electoral process by calling for the complete elimination of early voting, absentee voting, and electronic voting machines.
- At his most recent rally on March 13, Trump rambled to the crowd in Davenport, Iowa, saying that the election was “not a good situation, not good at all.” He also falsely claimed that since Democrats have such unpopular policies, they “can only win” elections if they “cheat,” and that Democrats support mail-in voting and early voting because “they want to cheat.”
Trump has spread election misinformation on social media
Trump launched his social media platform, Truth Social, after he was banned from mainstream platforms for inciting violence and pushing misinformation. And the former president has, unsurprisingly, continued to spread election misinformation there.
- In October 2022, Media Matters found at least 55 Truth Social posts from Trump containing the word “rigged” and at least 195 posts containing the word “election.”
- In December 2022, a Media Matters study found that during the week after the midterm elections, from November 8 through November 15, Trump pushed false claims of election fraud on Truth Social at least 30 times. Some of these posts included baseless falsehoods about mail-in ballots and voting machines.
- Trump has also continued alleging fraud in the 2020 election on Truth Social as recently as March 22.