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Google CEO Sundar Pichai says tackling hate speech on YouTube is hard

YouTube is under fire for hosting channels and videos that foster hate speech and fake news.

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YouTube is under fire for how it's handled hate speech.

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai, in an interview with Axios on HBO, said YouTube isn't quite where the company wants it to be.  Axios asked Pichai about his reactions to the video site's scandals and changes.

"You know, we rank content based on quality,"  Pichai said, in the interview that aired Sunday. "So we are bringing that same notion and approach to YouTube so that we can rank higher quality stuff better and really prevent borderline content -- content which doesn't exactly violate policies, which need to be removed, but which can still cause harm."

Axios noted that the interview happened before YouTube made its latest round of policy changes around hate speech.

Last week, YouTube said it was prohibiting videos that promote one group as superior to another, changing recommended videos to exclude more "borderline content" and limiting monetization for creators who often push the limits of YouTube's rules. In addition, earlier this month YouTube said it would no longer allow minors to livestream without an adult.

"The openness of YouTube's platform has helped creativity and access to information thrive," the YouTube team said in a blog post Wednesday. "It's our responsibility to protect that, and prevent our platform from being used to incite hatred, harassment, discrimination and violence. We are committed to taking the steps needed to live up to this responsibility today, tomorrow and in the years to come."

The site faced backlash last week after it refused to take down the channel of prominent conservative personality Stephen Crowder, who used homophobic slurs against journalist Carlos Maza, a writer and video host at Vox. YouTube said Crowder's videos didn't violate the site's rules. Following the event, YouTube took steps to ban supremacist and hoax videos, like content denying the Holocaust and Sandy Hook shooting.

Originally published June 10, 6:23 a.m. PT.
Update, 6:36 a.m. PT: Adds background details. Update, 8:03 a.m. PT: Adds comment from YouTube team. 

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