Digital rights group calls out top YouTube stars for political inaction

Posted October 6, 2020, 1:46 PM



As part of their campaign to Save Democracy Online, digital rights group Fight for the Future has launched a new scorecard to track which of the top 100 YouTube channels are helping to get out the vote for the 2020 US elections … and which channels aren’t doing anything. 

The official YouTube channels for The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Billie Eilish have both posted videos urging their viewers to vote, and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon hosted Derrick Johnson — the President and CEO of the NAACP — who encouraged viewers to "vote like our lives depend on it." But shockingly, none of the other top 100 channels on the world’s biggest video sharing platform have made direct appeals for people to vote during an election year in which so much is at stake.

The scorecard can be viewed at It excludes YouTube channels whose primary audiences are children, outside of the US, or otherwise not applicable.

"YouTube is the second-largest social media platform in the world, with 2 billion monthly users. Its most influential users could move millions of people to register to vote and do their civic duty," said Shuo Peskoe-Yang (he/him), with Fight for the Future. "When you hold that level of influence but do nothing, you’re not being apolitical or neutral. You’re shirking your own civic duty to help your fanbase get to the polls that comes from the power you wield. It’s time you stopped worrying what this means for your subscriber numbers and started doing your part."

Previously, Fight for the Future released a scorecard which showed which of the top 100 websites online participated in National Voter Registration Day. Next week, Fight for the Future will release another scorecard detailing what the top 100 Twitter accounts are — and aren’t — doing to help get out the vote. A new scorecard will be released each week until the election takes place on November 3rd, 2020. In the meantime, Fight for the Future is asking the public to reach out to the top 100 YouTube channels and demand that they do more to promote nonpartisan civic engagement.

"The top content creators on YouTube are doing absolutely nothing at all to help their audience register to vote and show up to the polls this November," said Dayton Young (he/him), Product Director at Fight for the Future. "The 2020 US elections will have far-reaching impacts on issues that affect literally everyone around the world. YouTube stars have a platform capable of mobilizing millions of people, and we need them doing everything they can to encourage others to participate in democracy so that we can build a better future. Starting now."