- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Viewers of the 2021 “Free Expression” awards want to know why YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki took the crown despite her platform being a “signature sponsor” during an ongoing content crackdown.

The media watchdog NewsBusters noted the incredulous response to the recent Freedom Forum award, which attracted more than 40,000 viewers.

“We want to be able to have as diverse and open a platform as possible, and represent as many views as possible on the platform,” Ms. Wojcicki said for the April 15 livestream. “But we also need to make sure that there are limits, and that we can see that sometimes that we’ve always since the very beginning of YouTube had community guidelines.”

The problem, as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz recently noted, is that Ms. Wojcicki admitted to muffling creators who haven’t run afoul of community guidelines.

“The YouTube CEO sat in my office and she admitted Steven Crowder didn’t violate any YouTube policies whatsoever,” The Republican said in December. “He was entirely consistent with their terms of service. But they nonetheless [temporarily] demonetized them anyway, simply shut off his ability to earn any revenue. By the way, this is how the man earns his living. Demonetize. I ask everyone here to think how they would feel if some massive corporation demonetized you, just zeroed out your bank account. That is an incredible power. And, you know, she said, ‘well, gosh, you should be really grateful because we didn’t pull him down.’ She said, ‘some on the left were really urging us to block his content altogether just to silence him. We didn’t do that. You should be really happy with us.’”

Critics in the “2021 Free Expression Awards Highlight: Susan Wojcicki” stream concurred with the overall message.

The video tallied 15,000 “dislikes” and 53 “likes.”

“Someone could literally create ‘The Modesty Awards,’ present themselves with ‘Most Modest Person,’ and it would still be less ironic than this,” responded one viewer.

“This show is sponsored by Youtube,” responded another. “Let that sink in for a hot second.”

“My channel has been shadowbanned, I received ‘community guideline strikes,’ [and] I’ve been threatened with [the] elimination of my channel. Now I understand it was all because of Free Speech,” deadpanned a third person.

NewsBusters noted the event’s acknowledgment that “over 90%” of 9 million videos in the last quarter were taken down by A.I.-run programs as an indicator that perhaps YouTube is not “in favor of freedom of expression.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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