YouTube has found itself front-and-center in the recent debates about free speech, the internet and how the online world is shaping our offline lives.
There’s no denying the site’s tremendous reach and influence, but that’s also why it has faced so much criticism for the role it can play in spreading misinformation, harassment and hate speech — not to mention questions about whether it’s truly a safe environment for kids.
This week, CEO Susan Wojcicki tried to address these issues in her quarterly letter to creators, where she laid out a goal of “preserving openness through responsibility.” And Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan made a similar point in a recent interview, where he emphasized the importance of “an open platform.”
At the same time, YouTube has been trying to improve, with product fixes like labeling videos uploaded by government-funded publishers (to create more transparency around content that might serve as government propaganda), trying to limit the spread of conspiracy theory videos and disabling comments on kids videos because of predatory behavior.
And while all this is happening, the company is also trying to find its place in the increasingly crowded landscape of subscription streaming. The strategy seems to be changing, with its previously paywalled YouTube Originals content becoming free and ad-supported this fall.
So there will be plenty to talk about when Mohan joins us at Disrupt SF. He’s been at YouTube’s parent company Google for more than a decade, leading the display and video ad teams before taking on his current role in 2015, where he’s responsible for YouTube’s product and user experience across all devices.
We’ll be talking to Mohan about how YouTube has tried to face these recent challenges, how it balances openness and responsibility and how the platform will continue to evolve.