Susan Wojcicki could also be some of the highly effective ladies in Silicon Valley, however she additionally holds the unenviable function of being in the end accountable for lots of rubbish that we, together with our dad and mom, siblings, associates, neighbors, colleagues, and youngsters — to not point out billions of strangers — now eat on YouTube.
That rubbish, together with invaluable content material, is inevitable on a platform that Wojcicki says sees 500 hours of video downloaded to the platform each single minute. But it surely doesn’t meant that YouTube can’t do extra, notably given the huge monetary assets of its father or mother firm, Alphabet, which had a surprising $117 billion in monetary reserves as of this summer season — greater than any firm on the planet.
As a substitute, as Wojcicki explains to reporter Lesley Stahl on tonight’s episode of “60 Minutes,” the corporate has broadly drawn a line at taking down movies that trigger “hurt,” versus movies that unfold may merely hatred and disinformation.
The excellence is laughable. “So for those who’re saying, “Don’t rent any individual due to their race, that’s discrimination,” in keeping with Wojcicki, “and so that might be an instance of one thing that might be a violation in opposition to our insurance policies.” In the meantime, as Stahl notes, a video stating that “white persons are superior” however that doesn’t explicitly incite motion on the a part of viewers can be positive with Youtube. If that video says “nothing else, sure,” confirms Wojcicki.
It’s a horrifying place for the corporate to take and for Wojcicki to be accountable, and in the end, Wojcicki’s finest protection, in her personal phrases, is that the service is best as a result of she is aware of she will be able to make it higher. It’s exceedingly chilly consolation.
In the event you missed the episode, you possibly can watch it right here, or learn the transcript under.
TO GRASP THE PHENOMENAL SCALE OF YOUTUBE: CONSIDER THAT PEOPLE SPEND 1 BILLION HOURS WATCHING VIDEOS ON IT — EVERY DAY. IT IS THE MOST USED SOCIAL NETWORK IN THE U-S. MORE QUERIES ARE TYPED INTO THE WEBSITE’S SEARCH-BAR THAN ANYWHERE ONLINE EXCEPT GOOGLE… WHICH OWNS YOUTUBE.
BUT THE SITE HAS COME UNDER INCREASING SCRUTINY, ACCUSED OF PROPAGATING WHITE SUPREMACY, PEDDLING CONSPIRACIES AND PROFITING FROM IT ALL. THEY RECENTLY AGREED TO PAY A RECORD $170 MILLION DOLLARS TO SETTLE ALLEGATIONS THAT THEY TARGETED CHILDREN WITH ADS. YOUTUBE IS BEING FORCED TO CONCENTRATE ON CLEANSING THE SITE.
WE VISITED THE COMPANY’S HEADQUARTERS IN SAN BRUNO, CALIFORNIA, TO MEET SUSAN WOJCICKI, THE 51-YR-OLD CEO, IN CHARGE OF NURTURING THE SITE’S CREATIVITY, TAMING THE HATE AND HANDLING THE CHAOS.
SUSAN: Now we have 500 hours of video uploaded each single minute to YouTube.
STAHL: Fi– say that once more.
SUSAN: So we’ve got 500 hours of video uploaded each minute to YouTube.
STAHL: That’s breathtaking.
SUSAN: It, it’s, it’s. Now we have lots of video.
AND A LOT OF INFLUENCE ON OUR LIVES, AND HOW WE PASS OUR TIME.
OVER A BILLION PEOPLE LISTEN TO MUSIC ON YOUTUBE EVERY MONTH: IT’S THE PLANET’S TOP MUSIC SITE. THERE’S A CHILDREN’S CHANNEL; WITH OVER 44-BILLION VIEWS.
STAHL: Do you let your kids watch YouTube, together with the younger ones?
SUSAN: So I permit my youthful youngsters to make use of YouTube Youngsters, however I restrict the period of time that they’re on it. I assume an excessive amount of of something just isn’t factor. However there’s a lot you possibly can study on YouTube. I take into consideration how YouTube in some ways is that this world library. You wanna see any historic speech – you can see it. You need to have the ability to study a language –
STAHL: Make a soufflé?
SUSAN: – wanna snort, you simply wanna see one thing humorous. A soufflé! Oh, yeah, cooking. Cooking’s a terrific instance.
SO’S WATCHING PEOPLE BINGE EAT. (NAT) A GROWING NUMBER OF AMERICAN ADULTS ARE TURNING TO IT FOR THEIR NEWS… SPORTS… MEDICAL INFORMATION. IT’S NOW MANKIND’S LARGEST “HOW TO” COLLECTION: (NAT)HOW TO TIE A TIE… TIE THE KNOT…OR SPEAK THAI.
THE SITE HAS PRODUCED WHOLE NEW PASTTIMES WHERE MILLIONS WATCH STRANGERS OPEN BOXES… (NAT) WHISPER… SLEEP… YOUTUBE’S ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE ALGORITHMS KEEP RECOMMENDING NEW VIDEOS SO USERS WATCH MORE AND MORE AND MORE.
STAGE: HAPPY FRIDAY!
WOJCICKI INVITED US TO THE WEEKLY ALL-STAFF MEETING. SHE’S SURPRISINGLY DOWN-TO-EARTH FOR ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE IN SILICON VALLEY, (NAT) WHERE HER TRAJECTORY STARTED IN AN UNLIKELY WAY.
SUSAN: I owned a storage. And I used to be fearful about overlaying the mortgage. So I used to be keen to hire my storage to any pupil. However then two college students appeared. One was named Sergey Brin. The opposite was named Larry Web page. They’re the founders of Google.
STAHL: Sure, they’re.
SUSAN: However on the time they had been simply college students. They seemed like another college students.
LARRY AND SERGEY ENDED UP HIRING HER AS THEIR FIRST MARKETING MANAGER: SHE WAS GOOGLE EMPLOYEE 16. AS THE COMPANY GREW, SO DID HER ROLE AND SO DID HER FAMILY.. SHE HAS 5 CHILDREN. GOOGLE BOUGHT YOUTUBE ON HER RECOMMENDATION, FOR OVER $1.6 BILLION, AND eight YEARS LATER SHE BECAME CEO – WITH A MANDATE TO MAKE IT GROW AND MAKE IT PROFITABLE. AND SHE DID! IT’S ESTIMATED WORTH IS $160-BILLION.
YOUTUBE MAKES MOST OF ITS MONEY FROM ADS – (NAT) SPLITTING REVENUE WITH PEOPLE WHO CREATE ALL KINDS OF VIDEOS. (NAT) FROM DO-IT-YOURSELF LESSONS… TO HIP-HOP LESSONS. THE MORE POPULAR ONES CAN BECOME MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR ENTREPRENEURS.
[Ad: Joe Biden promised Ukraine a billion dollars if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son’s company…]
YOUTUBE ALSO MAKES MONEY FROM POLITICAL ADS, A THORNY ISSUE BECAUSE SOME OF THEM HAVE BEEN USED TO SPREAD LIES ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
STAHL: Fb is dealing with lots of controversy as a result of it refuses to take down a President Trump advert about Biden which is not true. Would you run that advert?
SUSAN: In order that is an advert that, um, proper now wouldn’t be a violation of our insurance policies.
STAHL: Is it on YouTube proper now?
SUSAN: It has been on YouTube.
STAHL: Can a politician lie on YouTube?
SUSAN: For each single video I feel it’s actually necessary to take a look at it. Politicians are at all times accusing their opponents of mendacity. That stated, it’s not okay to have technically manipulated content material that might be deceptive. For instance, there was a video uploaded of Nancy Pelosi. It was slowed down simply sufficient that it was unclear whether or not or not she was in her full capability ’trigger she was talking in a slower voice.
PELOSI AD: Why would I work with you if you’re investigating me…
SUSAN: The title of the video really stated drunk, had that within the title. And we eliminated that video.
STAHL: How briskly did you take away it?
SUSAN: Very quick.
BUT NOT COMPLETELY. WE JUST DID A SEARCH AND THERE IT WAS STILL AVAILABLE. THE COMPANY KEEPS TRYING TO ERASE THE PURPORTED NAME OF THE IMPEACHMENT WHISTLE-BLOWER, BUT THAT TOO IS STILL THERE. WHICH RAISES DOUBTS ABOUT THEIR SYSTEM’S ABILITY TO CLEANSE THE SITE.
IN THE 2016 ELECTION CYCLE, YOUTUBE FAILED TO DETECT RUSSIAN TROLLS, WHO POSTED OVER 1,100 VIDEOS, ALMOST ALL MEANT TO INFLUENCE AFRICAN-AMERICANS – LIKE THIS VIDEO.
SOT: Please don’t vote for Hillary Clinton. She’s not our candidate… She’s a f**king previous racist bitch.
YOUTUBE IS AN “OPEN PLATFORM” MEANING ANYONE CAN UPLOAD A VIDEO, AND SO THE SITE HAS BEEN USED TO SPREAD DISINFORMATION, VILE CONSPIRACIES, AND HATE. THIS PAST MARCH A WHITE SUPREMACIST LIVE-STREAMED HIS KILLING OF DOZENS OF MUSLIMS IN CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND. HE USED FACEBOOK, BUT FOR THE NEXT 24 HOURS COPIES OF THAT FOOTAGE WERE UPLOADED ON YOUTUBE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF TIMES.
SUSAN: This occasion was distinctive as a result of it was actually a made-for-Web kind of disaster. Each second there was a brand new add. And so our groups all over the world had been engaged on this to take away this content material. We had simply by no means seen such an enormous quantity.
STAHL: I can solely think about whenever you grew to become CEO of YouTube that you simply thought, “Oh, that is gonna be so enjoyable. It’s “persons are importing fantastic issues like
SUSAN: humorous cat movies.
STAHL: –humorous. And take a look at what we’re speaking about right here. Are you fearful that these darkish issues are starting to outline YouTube?
SUSAN: I feel it’s extremely necessary that we’ve got a accountability framework, and that has been my primary precedence. We’re eradicating content material that violates our insurance policies. We eliminated, simply within the final quarter, 9 million movies.
STAHL: You lately tightened your coverage on hate speech.
STAHL: Why.. why’d you wait so lengthy?
SUSAN: Properly, we have had hate insurance policies because the very starting of YouTube. And we–
STAHL: However fairly ineffective.
SUSAN: What we actually needed to do was tighten our enforcement of that to ensure we had been catching the whole lot and we use a mix of individuals and machines. So Google as an entire has about 10,000 individuals which are targeted on controversial content material.
STAHL: I’m informed that it is extremely traumatic to be taking a look at these questionable movies on a regular basis. And that there’s really counselors to make it possible for there aren’t psychological issues with the people who find themselves doing this work. Is that true?
SUSAN: It’s an important space for us. We attempt to do the whole lot we will to make it possible for this can be a good work atmosphere. Our reviewers work 5 hours of the eight hours reviewing movies. They’ve the chance to take a break each time they need.
STAHL: I additionally heard that these screens, reviewers, typically, they’re starting to purchase the conspiracy theories.
SUSAN: I’ve positively heard about that. And we work actually laborious with all of our reviewers to make it possible for, , we’re offering the precise providers for them.
SUSAN WOJCICKI SHOWED US TWO EXAMPLES OF HOW HARD IT IS TO DETERMINE WHAT’S TOO HATEFUL OR VIOLENT TO STAY ON THE SITE.
SUSAN@DEMO: [SEE KICK] So this can be a actually laborious video to look at.
STAHL: Actually laborious.
SUSAN: And as you possibly can see, these are prisoners in Syria. So you can take a look at it and say, “Properly, ought to this– or not it’s eliminated, as a result of it exhibits violence, it’s graphic,” however it’s really uploaded by a gaggle that’s attempting to reveal the violence.
SO SHE LEFT IT UP. THEN SHE SHOWED US THIS WORLD WAR TWO VIDEO.
STAHL: I imply it’s completely historic footage that you’d see on the Historical past Channel.
BUT SHE TOOK IT DOWN!
SUSAN: There may be this phrase down right here that you’ll see, 1418.
1418 IS CODE USED BY WHITE SUPREMACISTS TO IDENTIFY ONE ANOTHER
SUSAN: For each space we work with consultants, and we all know all of the hand alerts, the messaging, the flags, the songs, and so there’s numerous context that goes into each single video to have the ability to under- stand what are they actually attempting to say with this video.
THE STRUGGLE FOR WOJCICKI IS POLICING THE SITE… WHILE KEEPING YOUTUBE AN OPEN PLATFORM.
SUSAN@HALLWAY You can go too far and that may develop into censorship. And so we’ve got been working actually laborious to determine what’s the precise strategy to steadiness accountability with freedom of speech.
BUT THE PRIVATE SECTOR IS NOT LEGALLY BEHOLDEN TO THE FIRST AMENDMENT.
STAHL: You’re not working underneath some– freedom of speech mandate. You get to select.
SUSAN: We do. However we expect there’s lots of profit from with the ability to hear from teams and underrepresented teams that in any other case we by no means would have heard from.
[Lauren Southern: But with name calling of Nazi or propagandist…]
BUT THAT MEANS HEARING FROM PEOPLE WITH ODIOUS MESSAGES ABOUT GAYS,
[Crowder: Mr. Lipsy Queer from Vox.] WOMEN [Naked Ape: Sex robot] AND IMMIGRANTS:
Nick Fuentes: I feel the simplest method for Mexicans to not get shot and killed at Walmart —
WOJCICKI EXPLAINED THAT VIDEOS ARE ALLOWED AS LONG AS THEY DON’T CAUSE HARM: BUT HER DEFINITION OF “HARM” CAN SEEM NARROW.
SUSAN: So if you’re saying, “Don’t rent any individual due to their race, that’s discrimination. And so that might be an instance of one thing that might be a violation in opposition to our insurance policies.
STAHL: However for those who simply stated, “White persons are superior” by itself, that’s okay.
SUSAN: And nothing else, sure.
BUT THAT IS HARMFUL IN THAT IT GIVES WHITE EXTREMISTS A PLATFORM TO INDOCTRINATE.
SPENCER: We wish a flourishing, wholesome white race.
AND WHAT ABOUT MEDICAL QUACKERY ON THE SITE? LIKE TUMERIC CAN REVERSE CANCER; BLEACH CURES AUTISM; VACCINES CAUSE AUTISM.
ONCE YOU WATCH ONE OF THESE, YOUTUBE’S ALGORITHMS MIGHT RECOMMEND YOU WATCH SIMILAR CONTENT. BUT NO MATTER HOW HARMFUL OR UNTRUTHFUL, YOUTUBE CAN’T BE HELD LIABLE FOR ANY CONTENT, DUE TO A LEGAL PROTECTION CALLED “SECTION 230.”
STAHL: The regulation underneath 230 doesn’t maintain you answerable for user-generated content material. However in that you simply suggest issues, typically 1,000 occasions, typically 5,000 occasions, shouldn’t you be held answerable for that materials, since you suggest it?
SUSAN: Properly, our techniques wouldn’t work with out recommending. And so if–
STAHL: I’m not saying don’t suggest. I’m simply saying be answerable for whenever you suggest so many occasions.
SUSAN: If we had been held liable for each single piece of content material that we advisable, we must assessment it. That might imply there’d be a a lot smaller set of knowledge that folks would be discovering. A lot, a lot smaller.
SHE TOLD US THAT EARLIER THIS YEAR YOUTUBE STARTED RE-PROGRAMMING ITS ALGORITHMS IN THE US TO RECOMMEND QUESTIONABLE VIDEOS MUCH LESS… AND POINT USERS WHO SEARCH FOR THAT KIND OF MATERIAL TO AUTHORATATIVE SOURCES, LIKE NEWS CLIPS. WITH THESE CHANGES WOJCICKI SAYS THEY HAVE CUT DOWN THE AMOUNT OF TIME AMERICANS WATCH CONTROVERSIAL CONTENT BY 70 PERCENT.
STAHL: Would you be capable to say to the public: we’re assured we will police our web site?
SUSAN: YouTube is at all times going to be completely different than one thing like conventional media the place each single piece of content material is produced and reviewed. Now we have an open platform. However I do know that I could make it higher. And that’s why I’m right here.