Congress’ hearing on white nationalism started 15 minutes late on Tuesday, but even before it kicked off, people watching the livestream on YouTube were using the live chat feature located next to the video to share racist ideologies and use vitriolic slurs.
About 30 minutes later, YouTube disabled the live chat feature on the livestream.
The House Judiciary Committee called policy executives from Facebook and Google to testify Tuesday as part of a series of hearings about hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism on social media.
Anyone who wanted to follow the proceedings live could tune in via The House Judiciary Committee’s livestream on YouTube. But the live chat located next to the video was quickly inundated with offensive language and slurs about Jews, black people, and other minorities. Some commenters used the clown emoji, which white nationalists have adopted as their own racist symbol.
The comments started before the hearing actually began, and continued as executives testified and victims of hate speech shared their stories.
During the hearing, Google executive Alexandria Walden talked about YouTube’s role in fighting white nationalism.
“That’s why hate speech and violent extremism have no place on YouTube,” said Walden, counsel for free expression and human rights at Google.
The live chat was disabled about 20 minutes after the hearing began.
“Hate speech has no place on YouTube,” YouTube said in a statement to Business Insider. “We’ve invested heavily in teams and technology dedicated to removing hateful comments / videos. Due to the presence of hateful comments, we disabled comments on the livestream of today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing.”
The list of expected appearances at the hearings indicates that Facebook’s director of public policy, Neil Potts, as well as Google’s public policy and government relations counsel, Alexandria Walden, will testify alongside expert witnesses from civil-rights organizations including the Anti-Defamation League. House Democrats told The Washington Post that Tuesday’s hearing would be the first of a series on the issue of white nationalism.
The tech giants “clearly have been conduits for that kind of hate speech,” Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chair, told The Post.