YouTube CEO apologizes, but defends decision on hate speech controversy

Elias Hubbard
June 12, 2019

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki apologized Monday to members of the LGBTQ community who were offended by the company's response to antigay comments by Steven Crowder aimed at Vox journalist Carlos Maza.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in an Axios interview on Sunday that YouTube is not "where we want to be" in terms of regulating harmful content on its platform.

YouTube did take some action against Crowder, opting to demonetize his channel to prevent him making money from ads.

"So I'm just saying people have gotten a lot of criticism, like 'why did you change your logo to rainbows even though you made this hard decision and that's because as a company we really want to support this community.", she continued. The Masters of the Universe faced widespread backlash in what has been dubbed the #VoxAdpocalypse.

"It's a hard computer science problem, it's also a hard societal problem because we need better frameworks around what is hate speech, what's not, and how do we as a company make those decisions at scale and get it right", he said.

Wojcicki responded, stating: "I'm really, personally very sorry". YouTube has always been a home of so many LGBTQ creators, and that's why it was so emotional. Even though it was a hard decision, it was harder that it came from us - because it was such an important home. We've always wanted to openly support this community.

YouTube did not remove Crowder's content from the site in a decision Wojcicki reiterated today was because it found he did not "violate community guidelines on harassment". "And there are a lot of videos there, and a lot of ways that community is attacked where we will be taking down those videos going forward".

According to the Daily Mail, Wojcicki said that she hadn't reviewed all of the videos that ultimately resulted in Crowder's channel demonetization. "Steven Crowder has a lot of videos, and it took some time for us to look at that and understand it in the context of the video because context really, really matters", Wojcicki said.

Axios chief technology correspondent Ina Fried followed up by complaining, "I feel like every other week, we're talking about something really bad, whether it was, you know, with the Notre Dame fires and 9/11 footage showing up", and asked Pichai to grade YouTube's current handling of the issue. "We looked at a large number of these videos and we decided they were not violative of our harassment policies".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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