YouTube CEO on censoring content: 'Balance responsibility with freedom of speech'

George Back
Producer, Yahoo Entertainment

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki met with 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl to discuss the site’s attempt at policing controversial content while maintaining an open platform. Social media sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have come under scrutiny for allowing misinformation to be promoted on their platforms. 

YouTube attempts to guard against videos that promote hate and violence, but the site also polices political ads that are blatant lies. “Politicians are always accusing their opponents of lying,” said  Wojcicki. “That said, it's not OK to have technically manipulated content that would be misleading.”

YouTube has made major efforts to try and curb controversial content, including 10,000 employees who sole purpose is to locate and flag misinformation, according to Wojcicki. But the process can be daunting because more than 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

To make matters worse, hate groups are constantly adjusting their content and using hidden imagery or codewords so it is harder to detect. “For every area we work with experts, and we know all the hand signals, the messaging, the flags, the songs, and so, there's quite a lot of context that goes into every single video to be able to understand what are they really trying to say with this video,” said Wojcicki.

While some people are glad that YouTube is trying to curb harmful content, others like Fox News contributor Dan Bongino do not like the policing. While this episode aired, he tweeted, “Make absolutely NO MISTAKE, the 60 Minutes piece on YouTube tonight is nothing more than a push by liberal activists to silence conservatives through corporate pressure. Liberals, and their media pals, DESPISE free speech.”

YouTube maintains, however, that it is working diligently to maintain an open platform for everyone. “You can go too far and that can become censorship,” said Wojcicki, “And so we have been working really hard to figure out what's the right way to balance responsibility with freedom of speech.”

60 Minutes airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on CBS.

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