YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki apologized to the LGBTQ community at a tech conference Monday after the company came under fire for not taking action against homophobic content on its video-sharing platform.
“I know that the decision we made was very hurtful to the LGBTQ community, and that wasn’t our intention at all,” Wojcicki said at Vox Media’s CodeCon. “That was not our intention, and we were really sorry about that, and I do want to explain why we made the decision we did.”
Last week, YouTube announced that it would not take action against Steven Crowder, a popular right-wing commentator who has been accused of a years-long campaign of homophobic and racist harassment against a Vox Media reporter. Much of his rhetoric was posted on YouTube, where he has nearly 4 million subscribers.
The issue was brought to light in a series of viral tweets by Vox journalist Carlos Maza, who said he faces “mind melting” levels of homophobic harassment through Crowder’s YouTube channel despite the social video company promoting itself as LGBTQ-friendly.
Since I started working at Vox, Steven Crowder has been making video after video “debunking” Strikethrough. Every single video has included repeated, overt attacks on my sexual orientation and ethnicity. Here’s a sample: pic.twitter.com/UReCcQ2Elj
– Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) May 31, 2019
YouTube later said it was temporarily demonetizing Crowder’s channel by removing ads from it and that it was going to reevaluate its harassment policies. It also announced it would remove neo-Nazis, Holocaust deniers and Sandy Hook skeptics from its platform. Crowder’s channel remains up.
“Steven Crowder has a lot of videos, and it took some time for us to look at that and understand it in the context of the video because context really, really matters,” Wojcicki said Monday. “We looked at a large number of these videos and we decided they were not violative of our harassment policies.”
She added that the Google-owned company wants to be careful about creating new content policies and not act on knee-jerk reactions. Regulation, she noted, “can have unintended consequences,” and she wants to work with governments to make sure they act appropriately.