Democrats press YouTube over Spanish-language disinformation

This March 20, 2018 photo shows the YouTube app on an iPad in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

YouTube is facing renewed pressure to crack down on Spanish-language disinformation in a letter sent to the tech giant Friday by Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). 

The Democrats told YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki they have “serious concern with the continued lack of action and transparency” from the company in regard to the spread of false narratives, especially in Spanish, as it related to the upcoming midterm election, according to a copy of the letter exclusively shared with The Hill. 

“It is critical that YouTube prioritize platform safety and content moderation for non-English speakers on the platform. However, despite repeated assurances that this is a top priority for the company, reporting on rampant misinformation spread on the platform continues,” the Democrats wrote. 

The lawmakers asked YouTube to provide them with details about the steps the company is taking to combat the spread of mis- and disinformation in non-English languages, including how many content moderators the company has designated to review non-English language content. 

They also asked YouTube to state when it is planning to release additional safety metrics broken down across non-English languages, as the company said it would do in past statements and commitments.

“The lack of progress here raises serious concerns that YouTube does not prioritize safeguarding trust in our democracy across non-English and Spanish speaking communities, despite assurances to the public and members of Congress to the contrary,” the Democrats wrote. 

YouTube spokesperson Elena Hernandez told The Hill in a statement that the company has more than 20,000 people globally, “including many with Spanish language expertise,” who work to review and remove content that violates YouTube’s misinformation policies. 

“We prominently feature content in search results from authoritative Spanish-language sources including news outlets. We also surface election information panels in English and Spanish to connect viewers with third-party information about a given election,” Hernandez added. 

Updated at 10:10 a.m.

Tags Ben Ray Lujan ben ray lujan Bob Menendez Bob Menendez Disinformation Susan Wojcicki Tony Cardenas Tony Cardenas YouTube

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