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YouTube bans prominent white supremacist channels amid growing scrutiny over hate speech



YouTube has banned several channels run by prominent white supremacists from its platform amid moves by major advertisers to boycott social media companies over hate speech concerns.

The Google-owned firm said the cluster of white supremacist channels – which featured some of the Internet’s principal far-right commentators – had violated its policies that prohibit hate speech.

Among those to have their channels shut down included former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, US white supremacist Richard Spencer and Canadian white nationalist activist Stefan Molyneux.

In a statement, YouTube said: “We have strict policies prohibiting hate speech on YouTube, and terminate any channel that repeatedly or egregiously violates those policies.”

“After updating our guidelines to better address supremacist content, we saw a 5x spike in video removals and have terminated over 25,000 channels for violating our hate speech policies,” it added.

Mr Spencer and Mr Molyneux were quick to respond to YouTube’s move, with both men taking to Twitter to comment on the decision taken by the US tech giant.

“I will appeal the suspension; however, this seems to be part of a systemic, coordinated effort,” Mr Spencer, who is head of the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist think tank and lobby group based in Virginia, wrote in a post.

Mr Molyneux, who is known for his promotion of conspiracy theories and views on eugenics, meanwhile described his channel’s suspension as an “egregious error” and accused the firm of having “suspended the largest philosophy conversation the world has ever known”.

The developments came as other firms also moved to tackle hate speech on their platforms in the wake of a number of major advertisers – including Ford, Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Unilever – announcing boycotts of social media companies in recent days.

Twitch, Amazon’s live video streaming site, temporarily banned US President Donald Trump, citing “hateful conduct” in his posts.

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Social media site Reddit meanwhile shut down r/The_Donald, a forum which has long been popular with Donald Trump supporters, saying that it violated the platform’s hate speech rules.

The growing scrutiny concerning hate speech on social media platforms has in part been triggered by the launch earlier this month of the Stop Hate For Profit campaign, which described itself as a “response to Facebook’s long history of allowing racist, violent and verifiably false content to run rampant on its platform”.

Responding to the campaign Facebook said: “We’re taking steps to review our policies, ensure diversity and transparency when making decisions on how we apply our policies, and advance racial justice and voter engagement on our platform.”

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