The Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) is calling on YouTube to permanently ban President Trump following a raid on the US Capitol on January 6th. The move shows the newly formed organization, comprised of employees and contractors at Google’s parent company, is dead set on influencing issues that go well beyond workers’ rights.
On Wednesday, YouTube removed a video of Trump addressing the attack, citing its policy against content that alleges widespread voter fraud. But the union called the response “lackluster” and said the company hasn’t gone far enough. “YouTube refuses to hold Donald Trump accountable to the platform’s own rules by choosing only to remove one video instead of removing him from the platform entirely,” they wrote in a statement. The platform “will continue to function as a vector for the growth of the fascist movements if it persists in prioritizing advertisers while exposing the public,” they added.
Workers also called out YouTube’s role in allowing white nationalist movements to grow. “YouTube must no longer be a tool of fascist recruitment and oppression,” they said. “Anything less is to countenance deadly violence: from Gamergate to Charlottesville, from Christchurch to Washington D.C., from Jair Bolsonaro to Donald Trump. Alphabet, in failing to act, has done tremendous damage: to the thousands of victims of hate and to the world.”
Alex Hanna, a research scientist at Google and AWU member, tells The Verge: “It’s incredibly significant that our union has spoken out on YouTube’s complicity in perpetuating white supremacist content, misinformation, and hate speech on the platform ... As workers, we’re in a unique position to speak out against this behavior and push Alphabet towards being responsible for the social effects of its technology when it goes against its profit incentives.”
Other platforms have already taken concrete steps to stop Trump from continuing to spread falsehoods and incite violence. On January 7th, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in a blog post that Trump would be banned from both Facebook and Instagram indefinitely, for at least the next two weeks.
Twitter took a slightly weaker stance, locking Trump’s account for 12 hours. The company said it would permanently suspend the president if he continued to violate its policies.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge.