House Democrats ask YouTube to explain extremism policies

‘More advertising revenue cannot come at the expense of our national security,’ they wrote.

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House Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee are again pushing YouTube to explain its policies around extremist content. In a letter sent to Google CEO Sundar Pichai Wednesday, the committee leaders said that “incendiary content that indoctrinates, radicalizes, and mobilizes extremists continues to flourish” on the platform.

“YouTube should make meaningful reforms to its policies and strengthen enforcement efforts to eradicate dangerous extremist and alternative content on its platform,” the lawmakers write. “Gaining users, maintaining engagement, and generating more advertising revenue cannot come at the expense of our national security.”

The letter also lays out several detailed questions about the company’s policies around extremist content and how it enforces those rules. For example, it asks YouTube how many videos and channels have been pulled for extremism since November 1, 2020, and how much engagement those videos received before their removal. Google has until March 17th to respond.

Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The latest letter follows a similar one sent last month, in which several members of Congress urged Pichai and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki to make “permanent changes to its recommendation systems,” in the wake of the attacks on the US Capitol.

Pichai is expected to testify at an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing later this month, alongside Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey. The trio will face questions about their handling of election misinformation and their policies around the pandemic.