Racist and anti-Semitic YouTube users overwhelmed the official YouTube livestream of a House Judiciary Committee hearing on white nationalism on Tuesday, forcing YouTube to disable the ability to comment on the stream.
The posts, which attacked black and Jewish members of the committee and the hearing audience, were made even as a Google representative at the hearing claimed that “hate speech and violent extremism have no place on YouTube.”
Meanwhile, a white nationalist YouTube channel called “Red Ice TV” actually made money from the hearing. In exchange for getting their comments highlighted on the Red Ice stream of the House hearing, Red Ice commenters paid more than $100 to the channel through YouTube’s “Super Chat” function. Eventually, that comment feed was disabled as well.
A Google spokesperson confirmed that the company had disabled the comment stream on the House Judiciary hearing, although the spokesperson didn’t comment on whether Google had ended the Red Ice stream as well.
“Hate speech has no place on YouTube,” the spokesperson said in a statement.”We’ve invested heavily in teams and technology dedicated to removing hateful comments and videos and we take action on them when flagged by our users. Due to the presence of hateful comments, we disabled comments on the livestream of today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing.”
Anti-extremism activists have repeatedly criticized YouTube over how its recommendation algorithm pushes viewers towards extremist videos. On Tuesday, the company said it had changed the algorithm to prevent the promotion of “borderline” content that didn’t meet the guidelines for being deleted from YouTube.
Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), apparently told of the issue the company was having with its comment stream, acknowledged the deleted comment stream later in the hearing.
“This just illustrates the problem we’re dealing with,” Nadler said.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) cut in, asking Nadler whether the racist YouTube comments could be “another hate hoax.”