YouTube announced today that it is earmarking $100 million for a fund dedicated to "amplifying and developing the voices of Black creators and artists." The move comes in response to nationwide protests sparked over the murder of unarmed Black man George Floyd by a White police officer.
The first such use of the money will be a livestream event this Saturday, June 13, when YouTube will bring together prominent figures from the Black community for roundtable discussions and musical performances. YouTube says through the month of June it will be highlighting racial justice issues more prominently on the platform including perspectives from the Black community.
YouTube has previously invested a similar amount of money in developing original content for its platform to better compete with services like Netflix, but those initiatives have come in fits and starts.
YouTube's open platform mess — YouTube has been notorious for its lack of diversity, with a large portion of top creators on the platform being White. It also continues to struggle with fake news — like the baseless idea that Bill Gates created coronavirus to sell vaccines — and incendiary content. YouTube has tried to police its platform in various ways over the years, such as by elevating authoritative sources in search results and by creating a separate YouTube Kids app for PG-friendly videos. It also has developed stronger policies against hate speech and harassment.
Because it's hard for computer algorithms to understand the nuances of video content, YouTube relies heavily on the community to report videos for its moderators to review. But as Media Matters recently exposed, many dangerous videos that encourage violence or otherwise can rack up millions of views before they're removed, and then others will simply reupload them.
Brands need to do better — The public is scrutinizing brands closely that make public displays of solidarity. The food publisher Bon Appetit has been rocked by scandal after a photo surfaced of its editor-in-chief wearing a racially insensitive costume, while the CEO of CrossFit was forced to resign after making racist comments about Floyd in a Zoom call with employees. The reality TV show Cops was pushed off the air in response to criticism of appearing tone-deaf, and HBO Max pulled Gone with the Wind over its pro-Confederacy slant.
By promoting Black voices, YouTube likely hopes it can boost this community on the site as critics say the company gives too great of a platform to incendiary, sometimes racist content.