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YouTube says rule exceptions are made with content from some politicians

YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki spoke at The Atlantic Festival.
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Big tech seems to be displaying a special affinity for politicians as the video-sharing platform YouTube echoes the position of the social media giant Facebook by saying that the content posted by politicians would stay on their platform even if it happens to violate any content standards.

At The Atlantic Festival, YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki, while addressing an audience, said that the company chooses to keep controversial content from politicians on the platform regardless of the content violations, as news and media outlets cover such content immediately even if YouTube decides to eventually take it down.

“When you have a political officer that is making information that is really important for their constituents to see, or for other global leaders to see, that is content that we would leave up because we think it’s important for other people to see,” Wojcicki said.

While Wojcicki’s statements seem to inspire a narrative that says “politicians can break YouTube’s content rules,” a spokesperson from the company later informed Politico that politicians aren’t any different to other YouTubers. The spokesperson added that the company treats everybody equal, but grants exception to “some” political speech if it is educational, documentary, artistic, or scientific in nature.

This announcement by the YouTube CEO comes at a point of time when Facebook’s chief of global affairs Nick Clegg said the same in a conference at Washington earlier this week. Clegg said that the company would give politicians a free pass when it came to breaking Facebook’s content guidelines.

Though Facebook and Google-owned YouTube have now made it public that they give a free pass to politicians, Twitter has already been doing so from earlier in 2019. Twitter said that it would simply label as well as demote tweets from politicians that violate the content but wouldn’t remove or delete them from the platform permanently.

Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have been heavily criticized for their content policies when it came to reviewing and removing harmful content online. But when it comes to politics, it becomes even trickier to handle the violation of content rules with global leaders such as Donald Trump being prolific users of bullying and violent language across their social media posts.

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