- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 13, 2020

YouTube tightened its rules Thursday to effectively ban videos containing hacked or stolen information damaging to President Trump or his presumptive Democratic rival Joseph R. Biden.

The platform’s policies were changed to prohibit content containing hacked material, “the disclosure of which may interfere with democratic processes,” like elections and censuses, essentially covering videos touting documents like the sorts that were stolen from Democrats during the 2016 presidential race and then circulated online.

Leslie Miller, YouTube’s vice president of global affairs and public policy, said the policy means the platform will remove videos containing stolen information about a political candidate “shared with the intent to interfere in an election.”

YouTube will also take down videos encouraging others to interfere with democratic processes, such as “telling viewers to create long voting lines with the purpose of making it harder for others to vote,” Ms. Miller wrote in a blog post announcing the new rules.

“We always enforce our policies consistently without regard to political viewpoints and do allow exceptions for content with sufficient educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic (EDSA) value,” she wrote.

Less than three months until Election Day, the new policies were announced as several other major internet platforms said they were taking similar steps in the race’s final weeks.

Twitter and Facebook each separately announced measures Thursday meant to ensure users of their service have access to accurate information about voting by mail, for example.

Google, which is owned by YouTube’s parent company, Alphabet, announced last month it was prohibiting advertisers from placing ads that “directly facilitate or advertise access to” hacked or stolen political material, meanwhile.

Russian hackers infiltrated Democratic targets during the 2016 race and stolen emails that were later leaked online, the U.S. intelligence community has assessed for some time. Moscow has asserted otherwise.

More recently, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Friday that Russia is using “a range of measures” to denigrate Mr. Biden, including publicizing leaked phone calls, among other tactics; China and Iran, want Mr. Trump to lose the race and seeking to undermine his campaign, respectively, the ODNI warned last week.

Google, Twitter and Facebook were among nine major tech firms who later met Wednesday with federal agencies tasked with protecting the election’s integrity, according to a statement issued afterward. Reddit, Microsoft, Verizon, Pinterest, LinkedIn and the Wikimedia Foundation signed the statement as well.

The U.S. National Security Agency and FBI have since issued a joint-advisory Thursday warning about Russian military hackers allegedly conducting espionage operations using a new type of malicious software known as “Drovorub” and provided steps to detect and mitigate infections.

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