On June 5, YouTube announced it would begin removing hateful and supremacist content from the video platform. The social media platform planned to tackle videos and channels that promote neo-Nazism, white supremacy, and other extremist and hateful content.
The new policy, which builds on YouTube’s 2017 effort to police against hate speech, will ban videos “alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion,” YouTube said in a blog post. Under the policy, YouTube also plans to remove videos that deny traumatic events such as the Holocaust or the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
YouTube did not single out channels, creators, or videos that would be targeted by the new policy. However, several far-right creators complained that day of YouTube removing or demonetizing their videos, The New York Times reported.
The company said that it would begin enforcing the new policy immediately, but warned it that it would take time to get their system fully up and running.
In addition to removing hateful content, YouTube plans to reduce the spread of harmful content. It piloted an update of its system to limit recommendations of “borderline content and harmful information” in January. YouTube said it hopes to expand the updated system to more countries by the end of the year.
“Thanks to this change, the number of views this type of content gets from recommendations has dropped by over 50 percent in the US,” YouTube said in its blog post. “Our systems are also getting smarter about what types of videos should get this treatment, and we’ll be able to apply it to even more borderline videos moving forward.”
The company said it would also begin recommending more authoritative content.
The latest policy will also take a look at YouTube’s monetization system. The social media platform tightened its advertising criteria in 2017, according to its blog post. Now, YouTube is ramping up the enforcement of its existing YouTube Partner Program policies. That means that channels that repeatedly break YouTube’s hate speech policies will be suspended from the YouTube Partner Program and will therefore not be able to run ads or use other monetization features.
The video platform noted that its platform has helped creativity and access to information. “It’s our responsibility to protect that, and prevent our platform from being used to incite hatred, harassment, discrimination, and violence,” it said in its blog post.
YouTube did not immediately respond to The North Star’s further request for comment.
YouTube’s announcement comes a month after Facebook announced it was banning a number of racist, alt-right, and white supremacist personalities and pages. The social media giant accused the accounts of violating its policies against dangerous individuals and organizations.
Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer, and Infowars were all banned from Facebook and Instagram. Despite the bans, users are allowed to continue posting on both platforms celebrating the individuals’ pages and their viewpoints.
“We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,” Facebook said in a statement on May 2. “The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.”
Alex Jones, conspiracy theorist and founder of Infowars, was also banned from Twitter in 2018.
Silicon Valley companies have faced a wave of criticism in the way they have responded to hateful, discriminatory, and oftentimes false content. Those on the right, including President Donald Trump, have accused the social media giants of censoring right-wing thought and opinions.
YouTube came under renewed scrutiny on June 4 when it announced that popular right-wing figure Steven Crowder did not violate its policies when he used racial language and homophobic slurs to harass Vox journalist Carlos Maza, The New York Times reported. Crowder has repeatedly insulted Maza, who is Cuban American, for his ethnicity and sexual orientation in videos to his nearly four million YouTube subscribers.
YouTube then backtracked on June 5, claiming Crowder had violated its rules and then suspending monetization on his channel. “We came to this decision because a pattern of egregious actions has harmed the broader community,” YouTube said on Twitter.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.