Google is taking steps to minimise the rise of hate speech and misleading content on YouTube. For one, it’ll start removing more and more ‘hateful and supremacist content’ outright. The firm is blocking videos which ‘allege 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.’ They will also ban videos ‘that promote or glorify Nazi ideology’ and those which deny events like Sandy Hook and the Holocaust.
“We recognize some of this content has value to researchers and NGOs looking to understand hate in order to combat it, and we are exploring options to make it available to them in the future. And as always, context matters, so some videos could remain up because they discuss topics like pending legislation, aim to condemn or expose hate, or provide analysis of current events. We will begin enforcing this updated policy today; however, it will take time for our systems to fully ramp up and we’ll be gradually expanding coverage over the next several months.”
YouTube will also take steps to remove content which is deeply misleading, such as anti-vaxxer content and flat-earth theorists. It will then raise up authoritative content in response, and act smarter about what kind of content it recommends. While some may argue that is ‘valuable discourse’, it’s 2019 and relitigating dubious science with non-scientists and charlatans does no service to anyone other than propagate falsehood and misinformation. The firm will also now suspend any channels that ‘repeatedly brush up against their hate speech policies’ from their YouTube Partner Program. This means, no monetization features and no ads on their channel.
Now, while some people and free speech absolutists may get offended by YouTube’s actions. It is important to note that control over what messages you do send is part of free speech. Just as you cannot be compelled to express a message that does not want to, a company or platform may do the same. Free speech lets you say whatever you want. It does not mean everyone else has to listen.