26/09/2019 8:14 AM IST

YouTube CEO Says Politicians Are Exempt From Content Rules

Videos that violates the policies will not necessarily be removed because it is "important for other people to see," said CEO Susan Wojcicki.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said politicians are exempt from the video streaming service’s guidelines on what content is allowed on its platform, arguing that what a politician posts is newsworthy.

Wojcicki, speaking at the Atlantic Festival on Wednesday, defended the exception, saying that content posted by a politician is “important” for others to see. She placed responsibility on the news media to provide any necessary context.

“When you have a political officer that is making information that is really important for the 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,” she said, as first reported by Politico.

In general when YouTube makes its policies, it allows an exception for content that’s educational, documentary, scientific or artistic (or EDSA), Wojcicki said.

“Even if we were to take it down it would be covered by all the news stories and the news is always going to provide that information and they’re going to provide it with context,” she added.

A YouTube representative, in an email to HuffPost, denied that the streaming service treats politicians any differently but reiterated the EDSA policy exemptions, which they said include newsworthy videos. 

Facebook on Tuesday elaborated on a similar policy it has, explaining that if a politician shares content that has been previously debunked, it will be demoted on the site but not removed.

“We don’t believe, however, that it’s an appropriate role for us to referee political debates and prevent a politician’s speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny. That’s why Facebook exempts politicians from our third-party fact-checking program,” said Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications.

TARIK KIZILKAYA via Getty Images
Politicians enjoy exemptions from YouTube's policy rules because it's "important" for people to see what they have to say, YouTube's CEO said.

Establishing guidelines and restrictions has been a challenging frontier for social media sites, particularly when it comes to fake news stories going viral and online comments by public figures, including the president of the United States, seen as harassment or bullying.

YouTube’s current guidelines restrict content that contains nudity or pornography; that’s harmful, dangerous, hateful, violent or graphic; or that harasses, threatens, scams or impersonates another channel or individual. Facebook has similar standards, as does Twitter.

Twitter, which has long faced scrutiny over its content, announced back in June that it also won’t hold politicians to its user guidelines, so long as the content shared is deemed to be of “public interest,” the politician’s account is verified and the politician’s account has more than 100,000 followers.

“There are cases, such as direct threats of violence or calls to commit violence against an individual, that are unlikely to be considered in the public interest,” Twitter said in a blog post.

Earlier this month, Twitter removed a tweet by Texas Rep. Briscoe Cain (R) that threatened Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke with an AR-15 rifle. Cain’s tweet did not appear to meet at least two of the exemption qualifications: It was a threat of violence and he has fewer than 100,000 followers.