YouTube has announced an aggressive step against hate speech and extremist ideologies, banning white supremacist videos and content that denies well-documented violent events, such as the Holocaust and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
The sweeping new policy will prohibit videos that allege a group is superior “in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status,” the Google-owned platform said in a blog post Wednesday.
“This would include, for example, videos that promote or glorify Nazi ideology, which is inherently discriminatory,” the company wrote.
Videos that fabricate theories to distort world events will also be removed, according to the new policy, which comes amid intense criticism over tech companies’ handling of hateful and harmful content on their websites.
Last month, Facebook kicked out several extremists from its platform, including Infowars founder Alex Jones, far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer and controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
YouTube said the new crackdown is part of an ongoing series of policies, resources and products introduced in recent years to protect its 1.8 billion users from harmful content.
But the announcement follows at least two recent controversies involving the popular video platform.
YouTube told a Vox writer and host of a video series called “Strikethrough” on Tuesday that it would not remove racist and homophobic videos that have long targeted him because the content does not violate the site’s policies. The writer, Carlos Maza, tweeted a compilation of clips showing YouTube host Steven Crowder repeatedly use offensive language to attack Maza’s sexual orientation and ethnicity.
“As an open platform, it’s crucial for us to allow everyone — from creators to journalists to late-night TV hosts — to express their opinions w/in the scope of our policies,” the website said in a direct reply to Maza on Twitter. “Opinions can be deeply offensive, but if they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site.”
On Monday, a New York Times report revealed that YouTube’s automated recommendation system promoted videos of children, including partially clothed ones, to users who watched erotic content. The website said it was working to limit recommendations of content that features minors “in risky situations.”
The platform also said in Wednesday’s blog post that it’s expanding a system aimed at reducing “borderline content” and “harmful misinformation,” such as videos that claim the earth is flat or that push “a phony miracle cure for a serious illness.”
Critics, including Maza, were highly skeptical of the move.
“YouTube’s new anti-supremacy policy is a joke,” he tweeted, “a shiny prop meant to distract reporters and advertisers from the reality, which is that YouTube doesn’t actually enforce any of these documents.”
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