EDITOR’S NOTE (Nick Stamatakis): We all know that a certain part of the Greek-American community – and especially the so-called Cypriot Lobby – has invested untold amounts of time and money on NJ Senator Menendez and they do not miss an opportunity to call him “a friend of Greece and Cyprus”… But yesterday’s announcement from Menendez’s office that the Senator wrote a letter TO DEMAND CENSORSHIP from youtube is absolutely undemocratic and goes against basic human rights and principles.
It is especially hurtful for all Americans of Greek descent who consider themselves the heirs of the great democratic tradition of Ancient Greece. And it is even more ironic as many Greek-American journalists grew up fighting for the freedom of speech during and after the 1967-74 Greek dictatorship and now they find themselves supporting a Senator who demands censorship…
Please do not anyone tell me that this is not censorship: Youtube CENSORED or “fact-checked” most videos presenting the facts about the Biden family’s corruption, while at the same time allowed all PROVEN LIES about the so-called “Russiagate”… What reason do we have to stand by a Senator who is about suppressing basic liberties?
At some point those among us involved in lobbying activities for Greece and Cyprus should draw a line: Is supporting politicians who help the “motherlands” more important than our support for basic human rights and liberties?
Analogous questions I have raised in the past about NY State Senator Giannaris. Are we to support someone just because his last name sounds Greek, while he is against our financial interests as a community (case of Amazon investment in LIC) or our Christian faith (support of abortion up to the day of birth)?
BELOW THE ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE SENATOR’S WEBSITE
MENENDEZ LEADS COLLEAGUES IN CALLING ON YOUTUBE TO REMOVE ELECTION MISINFORMATION VIDEOS
Videos aimed to delegitimize election results, boost false fraud claims have millions of views
NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today led a group of his Senate colleagues in urging YouTube to remove election misinformation videos that boost false fraud claims, seek to delegitimize the 2020 election results, sow public discord and fuel civil unrest.
“[T]he platform is now home to an ‘onslaught of videos aiming to undermine the legitimacy of the election,’” the senators wrote in a letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, quoting aBloomberg articleciting media and political researchers. “These videos seek to undermine our democracy and cast doubt on the legitimacy of President-elect Biden’s incoming administration. Moreover, because the current president has not committed to a peaceful transition of power, misinformation and manipulated media content on your platform may fuel civil unrest.”
The senators also called on the social media platform to implement prohibitions on misinformation videos ahead of the Georgia run-off elections and for all future elections. YouTube’s current policy, adopted in August, fails to prohibit users from posting false content on election results or how election officials count votes.
“The outcome of these races will determine what party controls the U.S. Senate; and for that reason, the races are expected to garner significant national interest,” the senators wrote. “YouTube and its industry peers must take responsibility and immediately stop the spread of misinformation and manipulated media on their platforms.”
Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) also signed the letter.
A copy of the letter can be found here and below.
Dear Ms. Wojcicki:
We write to express our deep concern regarding the proliferation of misinformation on your platform during and immediately following the 2020 elections and in light of the upcoming Georgia run-off elections. We urge you to immediately remove all election outcome misinformation and take aggressive steps to implement prohibitions, as other social media companies have done, regarding outcomes in future elections.
In August 2020 when YouTube updated its policy regarding misinformation and manipulated media, the platform notably refused to prohibit users from posting false content on the outcome of the election or the manner in which state and local officials counted votes. As a result, the platform is now home to an “onslaught of videos aiming to undermine the legitimacy of the election.” For example, one YouTube video claiming evidence of voter fraud in Michigan has more than five million views, despite any evidence of such fraud. These videos seek to undermine our democracy and cast doubt on the legitimacy of President-elect Biden’s incoming administration. Moreover, because the current president has not committed to a peaceful transition of power, misinformation and manipulated media content on your platform may fuel civil unrest.
As you know, on January 5, 2021, Georgia voters will cast their ballots in two runoff elections for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats. The outcome of these races will determine what party controls the U.S. Senate; and for that reason, the races are expected to garner significant national interest. YouTube and its industry peers must take responsibility and immediately stop the spread of misinformation and manipulated media on their platforms.
We respectfully request responses to the following questions by December 8, 2020.
1) Will YouTube commit to removing content containing false or misleading information as to the outcome of the 2020 elections and the upcoming elections in Georgia? If not, why?
2) What steps has YouTube implemented since announcing its prohibition on voter suppression content?
3) What steps will YouTube take to ensure that the platform is free from content that suppresses voting, incites violence, or makes false claims concerning the casting of ballots surrounding the January 2021 Georgia run-off elections?
4) Please provide our offices with any YouTube research concerning the platform’s amplification of groups or organizations using YouTube to spread election misinformation.
5) How much in ad revenue did YouTube receive from videos showing election result misinformation?
Thank you in advance for your cooperation.