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YouTube says it's banning Nazis, Holocaust deniers, and other extremists

Photo: Chris McGrath (Getty Images)

YouTube’s started to feel like a pile of loaded guns left in a schoolyard over the past decade, the streaming platform having more or less having turned a blind eye to the racist, conspiratorial, nightmarish content its algorithms keep planting in front of its (often very young) audience. Today, however, YouTube announced that, from here on out, it will not only aim to reduce the spread of what it deems “borderline content and harmful misinformation” via recommendations, but also ban accounts that promote Nazism and other ideologies that foster discrimination.

As The Verge notes, this should result in the purging of thousands of channels. “Should,” of course, is the key word, as YouTube’s proven shockingly lax at executing its own guidelines regarding hate speech. That said, with these changes they say they hope to “prevent our platform from being used to incite hatred, harassment, discrimination and violence.” Facebook made a similar promise back in March.


In its post, YouTube says it will prohibit any “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.”

“This would include, for example, videos that promote or glorify Nazi ideology, which is inherently discriminatory,” it continues. “Finally, we will remove content denying that well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, took place.”


A YouTube spokesman told The Verge that this effort will also remove videos that “claim Jews secretly control the world, those that say women are intellectually inferior to men and therefore should be denied certain rights, or that suggest that the white race is superior to another race.”

As for accounts that, as is often the case in Trump’s America, routinely couch their hate speech in lulz and irony—or, in YouTube’s words, “repeatedly brush up against our hate speech policies”—they’ll be restricted from monetizing their videos via ads or YouTube’s Super Chat feature.


All of this arrives not long after Bloomberg published an incendiary piece in which old and current YouTube employees spoke on how the company has ignored calls to moderate and address the spread of hateful content so as not to impact their engagement metrics. That YouTube protects some of its most toxic creators due to their massive followings has been a talking point this week after YouTube told Vox’s Carlos Maza that the years’ worth of explicitly racist and homophobic harassment piled on him by right-wing host Steven Crowder didn’t violate their policies, despite their policy forbidding racist and homophobic harassment. Happy Pride Month!


(Crowder’s general grossness, for what it’s worth, goes far beyond his attacks on Maza, but we digress.)


So, yeah, it’s probably best to take a wait-and-see approach with just how effectively YouTube executes. The MAGA sect are already screaming about it, meaning that it’s only a matter of time until Trump himself again starts complaining about the “silencing” of his base.


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About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.