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YouTube CEO apologizes to LGBTQ community but defends actions

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, speaking at Code Conference 2019
Photo: Asa Mathat for Vox Media

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki apologized Monday to members of the LGBTQ community who were offended by the company's response to antigay comments by Steven Crowder aimed at Vox journalist Carlos Maza. At the same time, she defended the company's handling of the issue.

Why it matters: YouTube has been under fire for a variety of issues, including the spread of hate and misinformation and enabling of child predators.

"I know the decision we made was very hurtful to LGBTQ community," Wojcicki said, speaking at Code Conference. "That was not our intention at all."

At the same time, Wojcicki said she was involved with and agreed with the company's actions in the case.

YouTube initially said there was no violation of policy before deciding a day later to suspend him from the program that allows content creators to get advertising revenue from YouTube.

Her comments at Code Conference follow both fresh scandals as well as a series of new policy changes aimed at limiting the availability and spread of hate speech and so-called "borderline content."

"This is something we had been working on for months," she said, saying it involved hundreds of people at the company.

The bigger picture: Asked by Vox's Peter Kafka whether YouTube can ever get a handle on the content issues it faces. Wojcicki said the company can continue to get better, pointing to progress the company made on violent extremist content. "I see how much improvement we have already made," she said, adding later: "I'm not saying we're done."

Wojcicki rejected the idea that people should have to get approval before posting videos.

"I think we would lose a lot of voices," she said, adding that there should be "tiers" of trust, requiring a track record for having ads or live streaming.

As for whether YouTube has contributed to the radicalization of the right, Wojcicki declined to answer directly. "Our view is we are offering a diverse set of content to users," she said.

Update: I had a chance to follow up with Wojcicki. You can see the video here.

Go deeper: Google CEO Sundar Pichai shared his thoughts on YouTube in an interview with Axios on HBO that aired Sunday.