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Susan Wojcicki says YouTube will stay an open platform despite bad actors

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YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki affirmed on Tuesday that the website will keep its platform open, allowing anyone in the world to freely upload videos, even if it means sometimes offending people.

In her quarterly letter to YouTube “creators,” Wojcicki touted the importance of keeping an open platform despite the challenges YouTube has faced as of late.

“A commitment to openness is not easy,” Wojcicki wrote. “It sometimes means leaving up content that is outside the mainstream, controversial or even offensive.”

Wojcicki’s doubling down on YouTube’s open model comes as the world’s largest video platform has struggled to police potentially dangerous content and misinformation on its site. Wojcicki acknowledged the criticism in her letter.

“As more issues come into view, a rising chorus of policymakers, press and pundits are questioning whether an open platform is valuable… or even viable,” she wrote.

Earlier this summer, its moderation issues came to a head when Vox journalist Carlos Maza called the company’s attention to the homophobic and racist slurs being said about him by conservative YouTube star, Steven Crowder. YouTube said the comments — like Crowder calling Maza a “lispy queer” and “gay Latino” — did not violate its policies, though the following day, the company decided the comments violated its terms of service. Wojcicki said in an interview earlier this month that company working to update its policies around “creator-on-creator” harassment, though those details have yet to be finalized.

Read more: ‘Like you’ve been fired from your job’: YouTubers have lost thousands of dollars after their channels were mistakenly demonetized for months

In her letter on Tuesday, Wojcicki tried to shut down a popular theory that the company allows problematic videos to stay up on its site, as a way to bolster views and ultimately boost its business. The chief exec said that idea “is simply not true.”

“The cost of not taking sufficient action over the long term results in lack of trust from our users, advertisers, and you, our creators,” Wojcicki said. “We want to earn that trust.”

Wojcicki’s letter comes as the company faces sharp criticism from privacy advocates and an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over how it handles content aimed at reaching children. The investigation alleges that YouTube had been collecting the data of children under the age of 13 — which would be a violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

In July, The Washington Post reported that a settlement had been reached and said that a fine, likely be in the “multimillion-dollar” range, would be handed to Google, YouTube’s parent company. Last week, Bloomberg reported that as an apparent attempt to appease regulators, YouTube plans to end its practice of allowing “targeted” ads on videos that children are more likely to watch, a decision that could cost the company tens of millions of dollars annually.

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