On Monday, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki apologized to the LGBT community for not taking “more definitive action against conservative pundit Steven Crowder’s channel,” according to The Verge, which is a publication of Vox Media.
Speaking at the Code conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, Wojcicki said, “I know that the decisions we made was very hurtful to the LGBTQ community and that wasn’t our intention at all. That was not our intention, and we were really sorry about that, and I do want to explain why we made the decision we did.”
Vox journalist Carlos Maza, who is gay, had pressured YouTube to punish Crowder for his remarks regarding Maza; ultimately YouTube decided not only to demonetize Crowder but also punish other creators in an incident dubbed the #VoxAdpocalypse.
When demonetizing Crowder, YouTube stated:
Even if a creator’s content doesn’t violate our community guidelines, we will take a look at the broader context and impact, and if their behavior is egregious and harms the broader community, we may take action. In the case of Crowder’s channel, a thorough review over the weekend found that individually, the flagged videos did not violate our Community Guidelines. However, in the subsequent days, we saw the widespread harm to the YouTube community resulting from the ongoing pattern of egregious behavior, took a deeper look, and made the decision to suspend monetization. In order to be considered for reinstatement, all relevant issues with the channel need to be addressed, including any videos that violate our policies, as well as things like offensive merchandise.”
Maza wasn’t satisfied with YouTube demonetizing Crowder. He stated, “Conservatives have spent years arguing that even basic content moderation is a form of ‘censorship.’ Their goal is to scare platforms like [YouTube] away from enforcing their hate speech policies. And it’s working, because YouTube doesn’t have the guts to protect its creators. You can’t give these people an inch. They won’t stop crying ‘liberal bias!’ until they’re allowed to use hate speech with impunity. And that’s exactly what [YouTube] is allowing them to do.”
After Axios journalist Ina Fried pressed Wojcicki to expand on her apology to the LGBTQ community, Wojcicki responded:
First of all, I’m really, personally very sorry. It was not our intent, YouTube has always been a home of so many LGBTQ creators, and that’s why it was so emotional. And that’s why I think this really … Even though it was a hard decision, it was harder that it came from us — because it was such an important home. And even though we made this decision … we have so many people from the LGBTQ community and we’ve always wanted to support the community openly in spite of this hard issue that we have right now.. As a company we really want to support this community. It’s just from a policy standpoint, we need to be consistent — look, if we took down that content, there would be so much other content that we would need to take down.”
We don’t want to just be knee-jerk; we need to think about it in a very thoughtful way; be able to speak with everyone; we’ll speak with people in the LGBTQ community, make sure that we’re incorporating that going forward in terms of how we think about harassment, and then make sure that we are implementing that in a fair and consistent way going forward.