Tech giants Google and YouTube are receiving pressure from shareholders to release details of requests submitted by the Biden Administration to remove “problematic” data and videos. The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) is an ethics watchdog organization that maintains a voting share in Alphabet, the parent company of the two platforms. It has submitted a shareholder proposal seeking the censorship demands.
The request comes amid the controversial removal of videos critical of White House COVID-19 pandemic policies. The disclosure proposed by shareholders could reveal whether the administration has instructed the tech firms to remove “misleading” information.
Last summer, the administration said it was in “regular touch” with social media firms regarding online “misinformation.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the administration regularly flagged “problematic” social media posts and asked tech companies to act “faster” in dealing with “harmful posts.”
NLPC Chairman Peter Flaherty said that shareholders should know when their companies are involved in censorship, just as citizens should know when the government is engaged in such activities.
The proposal now goes for approval by the vote of all shareholders, which is likely to be challenging to obtain since founders and insiders control most voting shares in Alphabet. If approved, the company would be directed to issue a published report that would describe the company policy regarding requests to take down content coming from any “agency or entity” of the U.S. Government.
The report would also be required to include an itemized list of “take-down requests” that would provide the name and title of the requester and the specifics of the request. The report would also include the company’s response and reasoning for granting or denying the request.
The NLPC said that Supreme Court rulings establish that active coordination between the government and Alphabet to remove content could result in illegal and unconstitutional censorship.
YouTube was blasted last week for deleting a viral video showing part of Joe Rogan’s interview with virologist Robert Malone, who criticized the COVID-19 vaccines.