YouTube CEO Says Trump Suspension to Last Until Violence Risk Decreases--Update
By Sarah E. Needleman
YouTube's chief executive said the company still sees a risk of
violence in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot and that
it would only lift its suspension of former President Donald Trump
from the video-sharing platform once it determines "the risk of
violence has decreased."
Susan Wojcicki, CEO of the Alphabet Inc. unit, on Thursday said,
"Given just the warnings by the Capitol Police yesterday about a
potential attack today, I think it's pretty clear that that
elevated violence risk still remains." She was speaking at a
virtual event hosted by the Atlantic Council, a nonpartisan think
U.S. Capitol police on Wednesday warned of a potential plot by
an identified militia group to breach the building.
Representatives for Mr. Trump didn't immediately respond to a
request for comment.
YouTube suspended Mr. Trump on Jan. 12 for violating its
policies against content it believes could incite violence. The
company said at the time that the suspension would last at least
YouTube was one of several social-media companies, including
Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc., that ejected Mr. Trump from their
platforms this year. The moves came shortly after the attack on the
U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. The actions by the companies
stirred debate over whether they were preventing future violence or
infringing on free speech. Mr. Trump was later accused of inciting
the attack by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
"We will lift the suspension of the Donald Trump channel when we
determine the risk of violence has decreased," Ms. Wojcicki said,
adding it was unclear when that might occur. "Right now, where we
stand, there still is that elevated risk of violence."
Twitter said its decision to ban the former president was
permanent. Facebook in late January assigned its outside oversight
board to determine whether it should reinstate Mr. Trump's Facebook
and Instagram accounts. The former president last month submitted a
statement to the board arguing the ban was unjustified.
At Thursday's event, Ms. Wojcicki said YouTube looks to
government warnings and increases in the presence of law
enforcement around the country in determining whether the risk of
violence remains high. She also said a rise in violent rhetoric on
YouTube would serve as a red flag.
"We have an intelligence desk where we look and try to
understand everything to get ahead of what's happening on our
platform," she said.
Once YouTube is ready to reinstate Mr. Trump's account on the
platform, Ms. Wojcicki said he will be subject to the same policies
as every other user. YouTube generally employs a "three strikes"
rule in which users get three warnings before an account is
removed. But, she said there are exceptions when an account is
blocked more swiftly, such as violent extremism. When YouTube
suspended Mr. Trump's account in January, it came after the first
strike, she said.
A reduced presence of law enforcement in capitals in the U.S.
and fewer warnings coming from government agencies about violence
would trigger YouTube reinstating Mr. Trump's account. "Those would
be all signals to us that it would be safe to turn the channel back
on," she said.
Write to Sarah E. Needleman at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 04, 2021 16:50 ET (21:50 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.