By Kevin Roose and Kate Conger
New York Times News Service
YouTube announced plans Wednesday to remove thousands of videos and channels that advocate for neo-Nazism, white supremacy and other bigoted ideologies in an attempt to clean up extremism and hate speech on its popular service.
The new policy will ban “videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion,” the company said in a blog post. The prohibition will also cover videos denying that violent incidents, like the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, took place.
YouTube did not name any specific channels or videos that would be banned.
“It’s our responsibility to protect that, and prevent our platform from being used to incite hatred, harassment, discrimination and violence,” the company said in the blog post.
The decision by YouTube, which is owned by Google, is the latest action by a Silicon Valley company to stem the spread of hate speech and disinformation on its site. A month ago, Facebook evicted seven of its most controversial users, including Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and founder of InfoWars. Twitter banned Jones last year.
The companies have come under intense criticism for their delayed reaction to the spread of hateful and false content. At the same time, President Donald Trump and others argue that the giant tech platforms censor right-wing opinions, and the new policies put in place by the companies have inflamed those debates.
YouTube’s scale — more than 500 hours of new videos are uploaded every minute — has made it difficult for the company to track rule violations. And the company’s historically lax approach to moderating extreme videos has led to a drumbeat of scandals, including accusations that the site has promoted disturbing videos to children and allowed extremist groups to organize on its platform. YouTube’s automated advertising system has paired offensive videos with ads from major corporations, prompting several advertisers to abandon the site.
The kind of content that will be prohibited under YouTube’s new hate speech policies include videos that claim Jews secretly control the world, those that say women are intellectually inferior to men and therefore should be denied certain rights, or that suggest that the white race is superior to another race, a YouTube spokesman said.