YouTube to ban hateful, supremacist videos


WASHINGTON • YouTube has announced it would ban videos promoting or glorifying racism and discrimination, as well as those denying well-documented violent events, such as the Holocaust or the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in the United States.

The announcement on Wednesday by the Google-owned video-sharing platform was the latest of a series of tech industry moves to filter out hateful and violent content, which has spurred calls for tougher regulation.

"YouTube has always had rules of the road, including a longstanding policy against hate speech," a company statement said.

"Today, we're taking another step in our hate speech policy by specifically prohibiting videos alleging 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."

The move comes after a call by world leaders in Paris last month to curb extremism online, following revelations about the live-streaming of a mosque massacre in New Zealand.

"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 said.

YouTube and other platforms have also been seen as havens for conspiracy theorists denying the Holocaust or the Sept 11 attacks, and for Nazi and white supremacist groups.


The Southern Poverty Law Centre, which tracks white supremacists and other extremist groups, said the ban will be positive only if YouTube enforces it.

"As with other outlets before it, YouTube's decision to remove hateful content depends on its ability to enact and enforce policies and procedures that will prevent this content from becoming a global organising tool for the radical right," said the group's intelligence director Heidi Beirich.

"Tech companies must proactively tackle the problem of hateful content easily found on their platforms before it leads to more hate-inspired violence."

YouTube said it would seek ways to keep some of the violent content to make it available to researchers. But the latest move is likely to eliminate numerous "channels" that use the platform for monetisation.

"We have longstanding advertiser-friendly guidelines that prohibit ads from running on videos that include hateful content and we enforce these rigorously," the statement said.

"Channels that repeatedly brush up against our hate speech policies will be suspended from the YouTube Partner programme, meaning they can't run ads on their channel or use other monetisation features."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2019, with the headline 'YouTube to ban hateful, supremacist videos'. Print Edition | Subscribe