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YouTube Lets Toxic Videos Run Rampant

Proposals to change recommendations and curb conspiracies on YouTube were sacrificed for engagement, Bloomberg reported Monday, citing Google employees. From the report: In recent years, scores of people inside YouTube and Google, its owner, raised concerns about the mass of false, incendiary and toxic content that the world’s largest video site surfaced and spread. One employee wanted to flag troubling videos, which fell just short of the hate speech rules, and stop recommending them to viewers. Another wanted to track these videos in a spreadsheet to chart their popularity. A third, fretful of the spread of “alt-right” video bloggers, created an internal vertical that showed just how popular they were. Each time they got the same basic response: Don’t rock the boat.

The company spent years chasing one business goal above others: “Engagement,” a measure of the views, time spent and interactions with online videos. Conversations with over twenty people who work at, or recently left, YouTube reveal a corporate leadership unable or unwilling to act on these internal alarms for fear of throttling engagement. Wojcicki would “never put her fingers on the scale,” said one person who worked for her. “Her view was, ‘My job is to run the company, not deal with this.’”  Well Ms. Wojcicki, don’t you think that perhaps dealing with toxic videos is part of running the, you know… video company!!!

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