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Neal Mohan, YouTube’s Chief Product Officer, on Platform Responsibility in India



Today, Neal Mohan, YouTube’s Chief Product Officer, spoke at the annual Raisina Dialogue forum about the role of platforms at the intersection of democracy and technology. He was joined on the panel titled ‘Left, Right and Woke: Rethinking Democracy and Technology’ by Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford University’s  Cyber Policy Center, James Carafano, Vice President at the Heritage Foundation’s Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, Baijayant Panda, National Vice President of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and Celine Calvez, Member of French Parliament and President of the France-India Parliamentary Friendship Group. The panel was moderated by Kanchan Gupta, Distinguished Fellow with the Observer Research Foundation. Below are a few of the key points Neal made in the discussion. The entire panel can be viewed here.

Over the past 13 years, YouTube has had an extraordinary evolution in India. In that time, we’ve seen people across the country come to YouTube to share their voice on everything from comedy and food, to learning and mental health. Inspiring creators like Bhuvan Bam and Prajakta Koli have built incredible communities and brought laughter and enlightenment to fans both local and abroad. Today, India is one of our fastest growing audiences, with 325 million monthly active users as of May 2020.

That’s why YouTube’s commitment to maintaining an open platform has been so fundamental to our work—not just in India, but around the world. A diversity of opinion encourages critical thinking, informed decision-making and healthy participation in democratic processes. But we also believe that openness must be balanced with the responsibility of keeping our community safe. We have invested extensively in technologies, people, and policies and made significant progress, but know there’s more work to do. The pervasive challenge of misinformation means that more than ever, platforms need to connect viewers with the authoritative content that leads to a thriving democracy.

At YouTube, our content moderation operates from a framework we call the 4 R’s. We remove content that violates our Community Guidelines. We use our systems to raise up authoritative and trusted content and reduce views of borderline content. Finally, we reward creators who meet the high bar for monetization. We uphold these principles globally independent of viewpoints, and consult closely with regional stakeholders, including governments, agencies, and experts, to ensure local context is reflected and given due consideration. 

One of the most critical areas we’ve seen this responsibility framework show impact has been in upholding election integrity. YouTube launched Fact Check Information panels in advance of the 2019 India Lok Sabha elections and brought viewers helpful information at every step of their voting journey. Across Google and YouTube, we surfaced comprehensive information on contesting candidates and political parties, drove participation in voter registrations, highlighted critical information on the voting process and finally, supplied a breadth of coverage across different Indian languages, on counting day. 

This year, we’re focused on working with governments to better shape regulations that allow us to preserve openness on our platform, while protecting communities from harmful content. We’ve benefited from partnerships with governments on critical issues, like preventing violent extremism and coordinated influence operations on our platform. Or during the COVID-19 pandemic, these partnerships with local health authorities were incredibly helpful as we worked together to provide people with accurate information. We’re looking forward to keeping in active dialogue with policymakers as we work to boost our creator economy, and keep YouTube a place where creators, artists, and viewers can continue to grow.