Update (10/20/20, 6:30 p.m. EDT): Seven out of the 11 videos identified in this report have now been removed from YouTube.
Multiple recent videos pushing the debunked Pizzagate conspiracy theory remain on YouTube, where they have drawn more than a million views over the past six months, despite an announcement from the platform that it would crack down on content promoting the conspiracy theory.
On October 15, YouTube announced that it was “taking another step in our efforts to curb hate and harassment by removing more conspiracy theory content used to justify real-world violence,” specifically noting that it was prohibiting content that “threatens or harrasses someone by suggesting they are complicit in one of these harmful conspiracies, such as QAnon or Pizzagate.” The Pizzagate conspiracy theory falsely alleged that a Washington, D.C. pizzeria was involved in a child trafficking ring and that Democrats were active participants in it. A gunman eventually opened fire in the pizzeria in order to “self-investigate” the conspiracy theory, and the conspiracy theory’s tenets are now part of the more-encompassing QAnon conspiracy theory.
Despite YouTube’s announcement, a review by Media Matters of recent Pizzagate content suggests a major gap in enforcement. The review, which was conducted on the tracking tool BuzzSumo, searched for English-language YouTube videos with “Pizzagate” in the title uploaded within the past six months that had more than 20,000 views. It found multiple videos still up that have a combined view count in the hundreds of thousands.
One video still up, with more than 65,000 views, alleged that Hillary and Bill Clinton and multiple celebrities “were allegedly involved in Pizzagate,” while another video with nearly the same view count directly named the pizzeria as part of the conspiracy theory while also citing QAnon. (Media Matters does not include identifying details for users who are or may be minors.)
Two videos with nearly 80,000 combined views also suggested Chrissy Teigen -- who has been relentlessly harassed on social media -- was tied to Pizzagate.
Other videos with tens of thousands of views still up include one tying the conspiracy theory to Tom Hanks -- another celebrity regularly harassed by QAnon and Pizzagate supporters -- and multiple videos claiming Justin Bieber had revealed the conspiracy theory.
Additionally, the review also searched within the past six months on BuzzSumo for uploads of Out of Shadows -- a viral conspiracy theory video that explicitly pushes Pizzagate -- finding at least four copies still up. Those four have earned over a million views in total.