YouTube Response in Wake of Attack on U.S. Capitol Woefully Inadequate
For Immediate Release: January 7, 2021
Contact: Timothy Karr, 201–533–8838
The following is a statement from the Change the Terms Coalition:
“Wednesday’s assault on Congress is another painful reminder of what happens when powerful social media platforms fail to act against the rampant spread of bigotry, disinformation and calls to violence. And Silicon Valley companies have given their biggest pass to the inciter in chief: President Donald Trump.
“Following yesterdays’ attack, some of these platforms responded by removing some of his posts and temporarily restricting Trump’s access to their platforms. But that’s not enough. YouTube in particular has implemented very weak measures that allow Trump and others to continue to fan the flames of hatred and violence, with the platform making only a vague threat of future action should Trump cross some new line.
“Trump crossed every line years ago. YouTube must take immediate action to ban the president from its platform. YouTube must also remove all other people and organizations seeking to amplify and organize racism, violence and other threats to democracy. We urge the platform to take the concrete actions proposed by our coalition and others to stop the spread of hate and violence.
“For years, YouTube has provided a haven for conspiracy theorists and white supremacists looking to build an audience and monetize their lies. Yesterday’s insurrection in the U.S. Capitol was the logical conclusion of YouTube’s lax enforcement and inadequate policies.
“YouTube’s ‘three strikes’ policy, announced today in response to the failed coup attempt, is profoundly lacking. This is a moment that calls for an emergency-level response. Three strikes might be appropriate for a seven year old sneaking cookies, but it has no place as a supposed solution to stop those plotting a coup against our democracy. It is not the solution to a president who encouraged armed insurrectionists to overrun Congress.
“YouTube not only enabled extremists to organize the insurrection: It funded them. White supremacists, racists and conspiracy theorists leverage the platform and its algorithms to fund their operations and reach new audiences. It is beyond unacceptable that YouTube — a company that has profited for years off the hate and disinformation circulating on its site — has failed so consistently to stop the spread of this vile content on its platform.
“In the hours following the failed coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol, companies like Twitter and Facebook took immediate action to suspend Donald Trump’s account. While we strongly believe more drastic action is needed, their actions are far stronger than YouTube’s.
“There should be no question about what happens next. Donald Trump has used social media for years to foment hatred and has now leveraged it to help organize and incite an insurrection against the U.S. government. Four people died as a result of yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump’s supporters are already planning more action in advance of and during the January 20 inauguration. If YouTube fails to take immediate action to permanently remove Trump’s accounts, it will share in the blame for whatever additional white supremacist violence occurs.”
Change the Terms is a coalition calling on Big Tech to institute and enforce service agreement prohibitions on hateful activities to protect public safety and respect diverse voices. The coalition includes more than 60 civil rights, human rights, technology policy and consumer protection organizations dedicated to encouraging social media sites, payment processors and chat services to commit to fair, effective and transparent rules and practices for content moderation.