Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, has written a letter to Google and Alphabet Inc. CEO Sundar Pichai urging him to suppress “dangerous climate misinformation on YouTube.”
Alphabet, which owns Google and YouTube, has yet to offer a comment.
The letter makes a number of demands for censorship from YouTube, calling on the video-sharing platform to:
- Stop promoting climate denial and climate disinformation videos by removing them immediately from the platform’s recommendation algorithm;
- Add ‘climate misinformation’ to the platform’s list of borderline content;
- Stop monetizing videos that promote harmful misinformation and falsehoods and about the causes and effects of the climate crisis;
- Take steps to correct the record for millions of users who have been exposed to climate misinformation on YouTube.
Unlike European countries, progressives in the U.S. are theoretically prevented by the First Amendment from passing laws against lawful content on tech platforms. However, this does not stop politicians like Rep. Castor from making censorship demands of tech companies.
Rep. Castor’s letter notes that YouTube has responded to pressure about “harmful misinformation” in the recent past, noting that the platform recently “removed economic incentives for channels that promoted anti-vaccination views.”
“I urge you to ensure that YouTube is not incentivizing climate misinformation content on its platform, or effectively giving free advertising to those who seek to protect polluters and their profits at the expense of the American people,” wrote Rep. Castor.
The letter gives Pichai a deadline of February 7 to respond to the committee to “describe any efforts” his company plans to take “to address these important issues.”
It is not against YouTube’s community guidelines to post false information, unless it crosses the line into scams. Advertisers are already allowed to opt-out of placing their ads on videos related to climate change if they wish, and are also able to create personalized lists of channels that they do not wish to run their ads on. Rep. Castor’s demands, if followed, would, therefore, end up removing choice from advertisers.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.