YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki is apologizes to the LGBTQ community in the wake of the company’s failure to take more definitive action against conservative pundit Steven Crowder’s channel.
“I know that the decisions we made was very hurtful to the LGBTQ community and that wasn’t our intention at all,” Wojcicki said at the Code Conference in Scottsdale, AZ today. “That was not our intention, and we were really sorry about that, and I do want to explain why we made the decision we did.”
Wojcicki’s comments come after Vox host Carlos Maza tweeted a video compilation of Crowder making homophobic comments about Maza, including calling him a lispy queer.
YouTube responded via Twitter about the situation, saying that, although the company didn’t agree with the statements Crowder made, his content didn’t violate the company’s policies.The decision led to mass outcry from YouTube creators, critics, and even employees at Google who signed a petition against YouTube’s decision.
Wojcicki was pressed about her apology by Axios’ Ina Fried, who asked the CEO to further expand on her apology.
“I’m really, personally very sorry,” Wojcicki said. “YouTube has always been a home of so many LGBTQ creators, and that’s why it was so emotional. Even though it was a hard decision, it was harder that it came from us because it was such an important home. And even though we made this decision, we have so many people from the LGBTQ community. We’ve always wanted to openly support this community. As a company we really want to support this community.
“It’s just from a policy standpoint we need to be consistent if we took down that content, there would be so much other content that we need to take down.”
Wojcicki said that context is important in deciding when to take action against a channel. For example, rap videos and late night shows often contain words or content that could be considered harmful. Contextually, those videos are fine. It’s the same defense that Crowder and his supporters, both creators and fans, have used, too.
YouTube is looking to re-evaluate its harassment policies in the wake of the situation. The CEO also said that when we change policies, we don’t want to be knee-jerk, adding that we need to have consistent policies that are continuously enforced.
When asked if this was an area that YouTube could get a handle on, Wojcicki said there is room for YouTube to improve, but added that she believes the company and the platform have come a long way.