Hearing on Capitol Hill on hate crime and white nationalism becomes a bit too real.
A congressional hearing on online hate turned into a vivid demonstration of the problem earlier today when a YouTube live stream of the proceedings was bombarded with racist and anti-Semitic comments from internet users, the AP writes.
YouTube disabled the live chat section of the streaming video about 30 minutes into the hearing because of what it called “hateful comments.”
The incident came as executives from Google and Facebook appeared before the House judiciary committee to answer questions about the companies’ role in the spread of hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism in the US.
They were joined by leaders of such human rights organizations as the Anti-Defamation League and the Equal Justice Society, along with conservative commentator Candace Owens.
Neil Potts, Facebook director of public policy, and Alexandria Walden, counsel for free expression and human rights at Google, defended policies at the two companies that prohibit material that incites violence or hate. Google owns YouTube.
“There is no place for terrorism or hate on Facebook,” Potts testified. “We remove any content that incites violence.”
The hearing broke down into partisan disagreement among the lawmakers and among some of the witnesses, with Republican members of Congress denouncing as hate speech Democrat Ilhan Omar’s criticism of American supporters of Israel.
As the bickering went on, committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., was handed a news report that included the hateful comments about the hearing on YouTube.
He read them aloud, along with the users’ screen names, as the room quieted.
“This just illustrates part of the problem we’re dealing with,” Nadler said.
The hearing was prompted by the mosque shootings last month in Christchurch, New Zealand, that left 50 people dead.
The gunman live-streamed the attacks on Facebook and published a long post online that espoused white supremacist views.
But controversy over white nationalism and hate speech has dogged online platforms such as Facebook and Google’s YouTube for years.