At today’s House Judiciary hearing addressing “Hate Crimes and the Rise of White Nationalism,” hate appears to have prevailed.
As the hearing’s live stream aired on the House Judiciary’s YouTube channel, comments in the live chat accompanying the stream were so inflammatory that YouTube actually disabled the chat feature mid-hearing. Many of those comments were anti-Semitic in nature.
Hate speech has no place on YouTube. We’ve invested heavily in teams and technology dedicated to removing hateful comments / videos. Due to the presence of hateful comments, we disabled comments on the livestream of today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing.
— YouTubeInsider (@YouTubeInsider) April 9, 2019
Unsurprisingly, the hearing struggled to balance its crowded witness list, which included Facebook public policy director Neil Potts and Google public policy lead Alexandria Walden. Potts emphasized that Facebook recently righted its course with regard to white nationalism, though this shift is still in its earliest days.
“Facebook rejects not just hate speech, but all hateful ideologies,” Potts said in the hearing. “Our rules have always been clear that white supremacists are not allowed on our platform under any circumstances.”
The hearing was probably ill-fated from the start. As Democrats attempt to grapple with the real-world effects of white supremacist violence, voices on the far right — recently amplified by figures in Congress — denounce that conversation outright. When political parties can’t even agree on a hearing’s topic, it usually guarantees a performative rather than productive few hours and, in spite of some of its serious witnesses, this hearing was no exception.
Hours after the hearing, anti-Semitic comments continue to pour into the House Judiciary YouTube page, many focused on Rep. Jerry Nadler, the committee’s chair. “White nationalism isn’t a crime its [sic] a human right,” one user declared. “(((They))) are taking over our government,” another wrote, alluding to widespread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Many more defended white nationalism as a form of pride rather than a hate-based belief system tied to real-world violence.
“… Hate speech and violent extremism have no place on YouTube,” YouTube’s Walden said during the hearing. “We believe we have developed a responsible approach to address the evolving and complex issues that manifest on our platform.”