YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki received a "Free Expression" award from the Freedom Forum Institute in a virtual ceremony last week — sponsored by YouTube, incidentally — and observers mercilessly mocked the gesture given YouTube's notorious track record of crushing free speech.
What are the details?
As part of the ceremony posted to YouTube, Wojcicki sat for an interview in which she lauded the concept of free expression.
"I've just seen the real benefits that freedom of speech has, as well as representing people of all different backgrounds and all different perspectives, and that the freedoms we have, we really can't take for granted," she said. "We really have to make sure that we're protecting them in every way possible."
But Wojcicki also emphasized YouTube's community guidelines and that there are "limits" to what the platform can allow.
Yeah, you might say that:
- In 2019, Wojcicki admitted that YouTube took down hundreds of ads for then-President Donald Trump yet claimed the purge was done without political bias.
- Last year, YouTube removed a viral video featuring frontline doctors calling for an end to the quarantine and comparing COVID-19 to the flu.
- Earlier this month, YouTube removed a video of a public health roundtable hosted by Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis featuring a panel of scientists and researchers who challenged the effectiveness of COVID-19 lockdowns and masks.
How did folks react?
As you might guess, YouTube and Wojcicki were savaged, both for their history of squelching content and for sponsoring the award ceremony itself. Heck, the video itself received over 21,000 down votes compared to only 88 up votes as of Wednesday afternoon:
- "Free Expression Award?" one Twitter user asked. "Are they having a laugh[?] Didn't she just censor the governor of Florida speaking with medical experts[?]"
- "LOL, YouTube receiving an award for free expression/pro first amendment is Orwellian s**t," another Twitter commenter declared. "What's next[?] Facebook getting an award for respecting privacy?"
Well, at least YouTube didn't turn off comments (yet) under the video of the virtual award ceremony, where a bevy of gems can be found:
- "The Ministry of Truth has awarded The Ministry of Truth an award for being the most truthful ministry," one commenter quipped.
- "Well, at least this is a great example of free expression," another user noted. "Just make up an award and give it to yourself."
- "Censor-Tube giving itself a Free Expression Award," another commenter observed. "I think we need to invent a new word for the level of irony this has reached."
2021 Free Expression Awards Highlight: Susan Wojcicki youtu.be