Congressional Democrats are pressuring YouTube to increase censorship of Spanish-language content they deem disinformation in a bid to influence Hispanic voters ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
Last week, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), which is comprised of all Democrats, held a meeting with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki to “discuss the urgency of addressing Spanish language dis/misinformation, content moderation, and YouTube’s initiatives and policies addressing dis/misinformation,” with the group arguing that “[a]ddressing the rampant spread of Spanish-language dis/misinformation remains an urgent priority for the CHC as Hispanics across the country increasingly turn to social media for vital information.”
“We appreciate Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO, for meeting with CHC Members today to answer our concerns on Spanish-language dis/misinformation,” CHC chair and California Democrat Rep. Raul Ruiz said in a press release. “Lies cost lives, and the CHC continues to call for strengthened oversight and to push social media companies to bolster their infrastructure to combat dis/misinformation on their platforms.”
Illinois Democrat Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García echoed similar sentiments, saying that “[t]he spread of misinformation remains an existential, urgent threat to democracy” and that “social media platforms like YouTube must be included in efforts to prevent the spread of lies and distortion of the truth.”
As a result of the meeting, YouTube has purportedly agreed to take significant action. According to CHC member and New Mexico Sen. Ben Ray Luján, Wojcicki allegedly “committed to releasing core internal accountability metrics at YouTube,” which includes the company’s “Violative View Rate, for Spanish-language content.” VVR is a metric utilized by YouTube to assist the company in determining “what percentage of views” come from “content that violates [their] policies.”
Google did not respond to The Federalist’s request for comment on what specific actions YouTube plans to take on the matter.
In a statement provided to The Washington Post, however, YouTube spokeswoman Elena Hernandez confirmed that the Big Tech platform “had a productive meeting” with the caucus, “where [they] shared the work [they] do at YouTube to combat harmful misinformation in Spanish.”
Other Big Tech companies slated to meet with the CHC about “Spanish disinformation” in the coming months include Twitter, Meta (Facebook’s parent company), and TikTok, according to the Post.
YouTube has routinely censored scientific facts it considers to be “disinformation,” with Covid-19 being a prime example. In Sept. 2020, for instance, the video streaming platform removed a 50-minute interview of Dr. Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist and former coronavirus task force member under the Trump administration, in which he argued that the risk of children spreading the virus is “not impossible, but it’s less likely” than adults. Such a claim was scientifically well-supported, with a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics proving so as early as August 1, 2020.
“YouTube does not allow content that spreads medical misinformation that contradicts the World Health Organization (WHO) or local health authorities’ medical information about COVID-19,” a statement from the company said.
The pressure campaign by congressional Democrats to increase censorship of Spanish-language content comes amid disastrous poll numbers for the ruling party ahead of the 2022 midterms, which show Democrats bleeding support among Hispanic voters.
As documented in a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, if the 2022 midterms were held today, 52 percent of Latino voters said they would cast their ballot for the Republican candidate, compared to 39 percent who said they would vote for the Democrat. Moreover, the same poll found President Joe Biden’s approval rating with Hispanics underwater by 15 points, with 40 percent approving of his performance as president and 55 percent disapproving.
Similar numbers were also found in a March poll from The Wall Street Journal, which found Hispanic voters opting for the “Republican candidate over a Democrat by 9 percentage points on the generic congressional ballot.”
While Democrats have routinely censored and labeled facts they disagree with as “disinformation” for years, the advocation for governmental involvement in the sphere of public discussion has notably increased under the Biden administration. Most recently, the White House announced the establishment of a Disinformation Governance Board, whose objective is “to crack down on what it considers to be online disinformation.”
Set to head the board is a woman named Nina Jankowicz, who in October 2020 insinuated that the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian misinformation.
“Back on the ‘laptop from hell,’ apparently- Biden notes 50 former natsec officials and 5 former CIA heads that believe the laptop is a Russian influence op,” she wrote in a tweet. “Trump says ‘Russia, Russia, Russia.'”
Other disqualifying actions taken by Jankowicz include the spreading of “misleading claims about the Christopher Steele dossier” and seemingly voicing support for “contextualizing speech into a law enforcement frame.”