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Google executives pledge to scour more content as elections loom
[SAN FRANCISCO] The chief executive officers of Alphabet Inc's Google and YouTube pledged to more closely scour videos and other content for misleading news and inappropriate messages on their web services ahead of midterm elections in the US later this year.
"We have more elections coming, so we're all working harder," Google CEO Sundar Pichai said during an interview at an event in San Francisco on Friday hosted by MSNBC and Recode. "We feel a huge sense of responsibility." Later this year, midterm elections will determine which party runs Congress, now controlled by Republicans.
YouTube chief Susan Wojcicki said the online video service is trying to hire as many employees as possible to scrutinise videos in tandem with computers running artificial-intelligence software to identify and quickly remove offensive and inaccurate material.
"It has to be humans and you need to have those machines," she said. "We are now able to remove 98 per cent of extreme content." Google's search engine and its news-aggregation service have been criticised for showing misleading answers and distributing false stories online.
Meanwhile, YouTube is facing one of the worst crises in its roughly 18-year existence after advertisers found their marketing messages running alongside extremist and offensive videos. YouTube has also been swept up in investigations into whether Russia used social media to influence the 2016 presidential election.
"All of us are obviously very upset that somebody could have influenced the election," Mr Pichai said. However, he warned that it's difficult for such a large company to decide what is true or false. "Drawing the line is becoming increasingly hard," he said.
"We're a global company. We operate in many countries. People disagree." Still, Mr Pichai said extra scrutiny of technology companies is important to maintain trust.
"We all need to be careful," he added. "We don't want people to reject technology. Technology is the source of progress."