In their first public statement since the creation of their labor union on Monday, a new union for Google workers condemned YouTube, for “its insufficient response” to the insurrection at the Capitol on Wednesday and its “role” in the “growing facist movement in the United States.”
While other social media platforms have temporarily or indefinitely suspended President Trump for spreading misinformation and inciting violence that inspired right-wing extremists to riot at the Capitol on Monday, YouTube—which is owned by Google—has only removed a video where Trump told right-wing extremists, “We love you, you’re very special.” The company has not blocked his accounts on the platform.
“We know that social media has embolden the fascist movement growing in the United States and we are particularly cognizant that YouTube, an Alphabet product, has played a key role in this growing threat, which has received an insufficient response by YouTube executives,” the Alphabet Workers Union wrote in a statement published on Twitter.
“The platform only cited ‘election fraud as the reason for removing yesterday’s video, even as [Trump] clearly celebrates the individuals responsible for the violent coup attempt,” they continued. “We warned our executives about this dangers, only to be ignored or given token concessions, and the results have been suicides, mass murders, violence around the world, and now an attempted coup.”
For years, YouTube has played a critical role in moving far-right extremist movements, most recently QAnon, into the mainstream, receiving backlash from its own workforce for its lackluster responses to extremism and hate speech on the platform.
While Google hasn’t said anything substantive about Trump’s rhetoric, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said “”We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.”
The union’s statement arrives days after Google workers announced that they had unionized with the Communications Workers of America, a rarity in the tech industry, that culminates years of activism led by workers around issues including transparency from YouTube. Already, more than 600 workers have joined the union, according to organizers, which is, notably, open not only to Google employees but also contractors and managers.
While Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and executives have criticized Google workers who created the union, arguing that engineers making six figures don’t need the protection of the union, the union’s new statement itself is an indication of why Google workers felt the need to form a union and what it hopes to accomplish.
“Our mission states that ‘we are responsible for the technology that we bring into the world, and recognize that its implications reach far beyond Alphabet,” the union continued in its statement. “The battle against fascism will require constant vigilance on many fronts… We must begin with our own company.”
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