Susan Wojicki, CEO of YouTube at the 2019 Code Conference on June 10, 2019 in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Asa Mathat | Vox Media
Several Senate Democrats wrote a letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki on Monday night saying they were concerned about the election’s misinformation on the platform and demanded its removal.
Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota, Gary Peters, Michigan, Mazie Hirono, Hawaii, and Robert Menendez, New Jersey, wrote the letter asking the company if it would undertake to remove content that contained false or misleading information.
The letter outlines the risk of misinformation ahead of the two Senate runoff races on Jan. 5, which will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. He says YouTube must “take responsibility” and “stop the spread of misinformation immediately.”
“We are writing to express our deep concern at the spread of misinformation on your platform during and immediately after the 2020 elections and in the light of the upcoming elections in Georgia,” the letter said. “We urge you to immediately remove misinformation about the outcome of the election and take aggressive steps to enforce the bans, as other social media companies have done, regarding the outcome of future elections.”
While the letter may not lead to any material action, it comes because Google-owned YouTube has escaped much of the criticism of misinformation about Twitter and Facebook’s social media platforms.
In recent weeks, however, YouTube has faced backlash and national attention after storing videos that unfoundedly claim that President Donald Trump won the presidential election and that Democrat voters are committing fraud, despite the company’s “demonstrably false “and” acknowledges “[undermine] confidence in elections. ”
The company’s response was to remove the ads and downsize the videos by ranking, but it couldn’t consistently enforce this, resulting in misinformed videos spreading through the Internet.
In response to a letter from Senate Democrats, a YouTube spokesman said the site’s most popular election videos come from “authoritative news organizations”. The spokesman also said he would remove videos that violated the guidelines. But the spokesman also said the company will allow videos to discuss the election results and the counting process.
“Like other companies, we allow the election results and the vote counting process to be discussed and will continue to monitor new developments closely,” a YouTube spokesman said in a statement.
In their letter, senators cited an example of a YouTube video that claimed allegations of voter fraud in Michigan and that, despite evidence of such fraud, had more than 5 million views.
“These videos want to undermine our democracy and call into question the legitimacy of President Biden’s inaugural administration,” the letter said. “Moreover, because the current president has not committed himself to a peaceful transfer of power, misinformation and manipulated media content on your platform could cause civil unrest.”
The letter asks YouTube what steps it will take to ensure that the platform does not suppress votes, incite violence or misrepresent ballots. It also requests information from YouTube on videos that disseminate misinformation, as well as quantify revenue from receiving false information about election results.
The senators asked until December 8 to answer the questions.