YouTube bans white supremacists including David Duke and Richard Spencer

The channel terminations come as social media platforms face a reckoning over hate speech.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
2 min read

YouTube said the terminated channels violated its hate speech policies.

Seth Rosenblatt

YouTube on Monday said it's terminated the channels of a handful of white supremacists, including far-right figure Richard Spencer and former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke. 

The ban also includes the video personality Stefan Molyneux and the white nationalist organization American Renaissance. YouTube, which is owned by Google, said the accounts were removed for repeatedly violating the platform's policies against hate speech. 

The ban follows rule changes YouTube announced a year ago to crack down on toxic content. The policy bars videos videos that push extremist views like white supremacy or deny events like the Holocaust or Sandy Hook shooting. The company said it would remove any video "alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status."

YouTube also said the accounts linked to hateful content outside of the platform, which also violates the company's policies.

"We have strict policies prohibiting hate speech on YouTube, and terminate any channel that repeatedly or egregiously violates those policies," a YouTube spokesman said. "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."

The announcement comes as social media companies face a reckoning hate speech on their platforms. Several big companies, including Unilever, Verizon and Starbucks, have announced in recent days that they are pausing advertising on Facebook and other social media sites. Coca-Cola also said on Friday it's pausing social media ads, but unlike some of the other brands, its halt will also include ads on YouTube. 

Earlier Monday, Reddit said it's banning the subreddit r/The_Donald, which sprang up as a forum for supporters of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential election campaign, but became known for racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic content.

After being alerted by YouTube about their bans, some of the accounts said they'd fight back. Spencer said on Twitter that the move "seems to be part of a systemic, coordinated effort" and that he'd appeal the decision. Molyneux tweeted that YouTube "just suspended the largest philosophy conversation the world has ever known" and asked the company to "please review."

Spencer and Molyneux didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

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