A representative of YouTube reportedly threatened a French video blogger to prevent her from asking tough questions in an interview with the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
In a hidden video, Laetitia Birbes is confronted by a representative of YouTube ahead of her interview with Juncker with what seems to be threatening her if she presses too hard with her questions:
“You don’t want to get on the wrong side of YouTube and the European Commission, or, of the people who trust you, except if you don’t care about having a long career on YouTube.”
In a video released on her channel, Birbes mentioned the incident, saying she initially felt pressured to refrain from asking tough questions, which then escalated to a much harsher tone which left her feeling decidedly threatened. YouTube has denied presenting any sort of threat, insisting that all comments were made simply as suggestions to adopt a positive tone.
Not Google’s first instance of intervention in favor of powerful governments
Intervening on the behalf of the European Commission is not atypical behavior from Google. According to a lengthy article by Julian Assange of Wikileaks, Google’s top executives have displayed a long-term pattern of supporting world powers. These ties run deep, from supporting electoral campaigns to hosting joint events and initiatives. Assange concludes:
“If the future of the Internet is to be Google, that should be of serious concern to people all over the world—in Latin America, East and Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, the former Soviet Union, and even in Europe—for whom the Internet embodies the promise of an alternative to US cultural, economic, and strategic hegemony.”
Internet and social media giants caught in recent political censorship
Google is not alone in using its influence to limit certain viewpoints in political discussion. During the 2016 US presidential campaign, Facebook was caught favoring content supporting Hillary Clinton while suppressing that of her rivals. One popular meme page, Liberty Memes, was briefly shut down after it posted a meme critical of the lack of criminal indictment Clinton faced as a result of her mishandling of classified data.
Twitter recently generated controversy when it banned political pundit Milo Yiannopoulos over inciting racially-themed harassment of an actress, ostensibly as part of a move to crack down on bullying and terrorism on the social media platform. The move drew criticism from fans of Yiannopoulos claiming that the move was politically motivated since they felt users with left-leaning political positions had not experienced similarly stringent standards of conduct.