This was a really great interview from Peter Kafka at the Code Conference. Especially given the turmoil around YouTube’s policies in the last week. The Press Box from The Ringer1 did a good job explaining the recent kerfuffle if you haven’t heard about it.
I believe YouTube needs to be put under a microscope given the current climate and how they contribute to it, but I was hoping for this to be a little more conversational rather than Kafka’s blunt question to question hard hitting reporter style.
There was one point specifically I thought would have benefitted from a great conversation, which mostly got derailed by Kafka’s seemingly insistence that YouTube not be open2. For the record, I disagree with Kafka in this regard and think the value of YouTube comes from being open and allowing all different types of voices in with no barrier to entry. YouTube provides a great service and there is no way to cultivate what they have and be a place of gazillions of hours of video from all over the world if the gate is moved to the front of the process requiring approval to upload or even sign-up to be a creator. That’s a huge barrier completely changing what YouTube is and I don’t think it’s even close to being a better solution. With that being said, YouTube can definitely do more to limit hate and be quicker to bring down the hammer when necessary. The Crowder incident is a great example of where they missed the boat and how they can improve.
I’m not going to be the one to solve the problem, I’m not nearly smart enough, but that’s why I think the conversation could’ve been so valuable if Kafka were more willing to have that back and forth. After the first ten minutes, Wojcicki was on the defensive, which again, is warranted given what had just happened, but rather than seeing Kafka try to get Wojcicki to stumble, giving an answer he knows she never will, he should have created an environment to talk about what YouTube would actually look like if the gate were moved to the front, or what other potential solutions could be implemented, and how these types of changes would effect YouTube, the market, and society.