Researcher calls YouTube extremist content ban ‘too little, too late’

Internet researcher Jonas Kaiser said Thursday that YouTube’s latest move to ban extremist content on the platform is “too little, too late.”

“When it comes from white supremacists, from Neo-nazis, YouTube in my mind has been doing too little, too late,” Kaiser, a Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society affiliate at Harvard University, told Hill.TV.

He urged the platform to be more transparent when it comes to freedom of speech issues.

“In general there needs to be more transparency, especially when it comes to thorny issues like First Amendment rights, which I think should be protected at all costs,” Kaiser said. “However, obviously there’s always this question of to what extent.”

YouTube announced earlier this month that it would take stronger action against “hateful and supremacist content.”

In a blog post entitled “Our ongoing work to tackle hate,” the Google-owned company said it would prohibit “videos alleging that 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 move came a day after YouTube sparked outrage over its handling of a series of remarks made by conservative commentator Steven Crowder about Vox journalist Carlos Maza. 

In a viral Twitter thread, Maza compiled a montage of Crowder referring to Maza using racist and homophobic slurs, including “lispy queer” and the “gay Mexican from Vox.” YouTube said although it found the language “clearly hurtful,” Crowder’s videos didn’t violate company policies. 

Crowder’s channel was later demonetized, and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki issued an apology to the LGBTQ community. The company is now in the process of reassessing its harassment policies in light of the incident.

While some conservatives claim that YouTube’s latest moves against harassment and hate speech seek to censor those on the right, civil rights groups like the Anti-Defamation League have applaud the company’s new policies, calling them an “important step forward.”

—Tess Bonn

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