YouTube just zapped a handful of white nationalist channels as part of its ongoing crackdown on hate speech, including one outlet that popped up in some recent DOJ email blasts.
The accounts included Unite the Right activist James Allsup, the white nationalist site VDARE, the American Identity Movement, and the podcasting outlet TRS Radio. Right Wing Watch first reported the takedowns.
The removals mark the second time the fringe outlet VDARE has bubbled into the mainstream in recent days. Last week, BuzzFeed News reported that department newsletters circulated in the Executive Office for Immigration Review, a wing of the Justice Department, occasionally cited the anti-immigrant site next to mainstream-media clips. At least one of the linked stories included anti-Semitic slurs.
YouTube and other tech giants have faced mounting allegations that such incendiary content boosts the user engagement that they crave for advertising. That pressure has grown alongside a slew of Capitol Hill hearings that brought the prospect of regulation into focus, forcing the famously libertarian Silicon Valley to grapple with its role in moderating speech. This week’s takedowns come more than two months after YouTube announced a renewed effort to tackle hateful and supremacist content.
The push for more stringent enforcement of YouTube’s policies has in some cases led to friction with creators, particularly conservative political commentators. On Tuesday, CEO Susan Wojcicki coincidentally published a blog post aimed at smoothing things over.
The executive attempted a balancing act in her note to creators, arguing that “an open platform is more important than ever. She added, “We REMOVE content that violates our policy as quickly as possible.”
“One assumption we’ve heard is that we hesitate to take action on problematic content because it benefits our business,” she wrote. “This is simply not true — in fact, the cost of not taking sufficient action over the long-term results in lack of trust from our users, advertisers, and you, our creators.”
YouTube did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment on why the white nationalist accounts taken down this week were allowed until this point.
In a post to the far-right social platform Gab on Monday, Allsup, the prominent Charlottesville protester, framed the removals as a Big Tech crackdown on peaceful dissent.
“When people are systematically denied the ability to change their country through peaceful political action, some will unfortunately conclude that vigilante action is the only solution,” Allsup wrote. “That is exactly what those in power want — individual acts of terrorism allow them to further erode speech & gun rights.”
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