"We will stop removing content with unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud, errors, or problems that occurred during the 2020 presidential election," Google's platform said on its blog.

"The ability to freely debate political ideas, even those that are controversial or based on false assumptions, is essential to the functioning of a democratic society, especially in the middle of an election season," she added.

YouTube had put in place this regulation in December 2020 in order to combat unfounded claims that the presidential election in November was stolen from Donald Trump in favor of Joe Biden.

The change in the platform's content moderation policy, which takes effect immediately, comes as tech giants seek to find the right formula to combat disinformation without restricting freedom of expression in an increasingly polarized political environment in the United States.

"In the current context, we believe that while removing this type of content helps combat misinformation, it can also have the unintended effect of limiting political speech without significantly reducing the risk of violence or other harm in the real world," YouTube continued.

"Content moderation is good for commerce and democracy. The end of YouTube's moderation policy regarding this election is dangerous for all of us," said Nora Benavidez of the Free Press association.

YouTube has "decided to take the easy way out by leaving Donald Trump and those who support him free to lie without consequences about the 2020 elections," also castigated Julie Millican, vice president of the NGO Media Matters.

YouTube said its other regulations related to election disinformation, including banning content that misleads voters or encourages people to interfere with the democratic process, is still in place.

© 2023 AFP