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Recode Daily: Former YouTube employees say the company didn’t listen to warning signs about extremist content

Plus: Congress tries to crack down on spam calls, Google awards temps more benefits, and the DOJ wades into Oscar selection drama.

A woman walking past a YouTube billboard advertisement.
A billboard ad for YouTube.
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Shirin Ghaffary is a senior Vox correspondent covering the social media industry. Previously, Ghaffary worked at BuzzFeed News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and TechCrunch.

YouTube didn’t listen to internal concerns about the spread of “false, incendiary and toxic content” on the video platform, according to a new report in Bloomberg. The article cites interviews with over 20 current and former YouTube employees who feel the company didn’t take the threat of dangerous content seriously enough. The article points to examples such as the company’s “lackluster response to explicit videos aimed at kids” and the spread of anti-vaccination conspiracy theories. “YouTube should never have allowed dangerous conspiracy theories to become such a dominant part of the platform’s culture,” said Micah Schaffer, a former employee quoted in the article. A spokesperson for the company disputed the claims and said the company has been focusing on solving content problems over the past two years. [Mark Bergen / Bloomberg]

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Congress is introducing legislation to help stop spam calls. Last year, about 26 billion robocalls were placed to US mobile phones. In response to the growing problem of robocallers, Republicans and Democrats alike are making moves to crack down on the people and the bots who make them. A team of bipartisan legislators are supporting the TRACED Act, which would give the US government more authority to raise fines on illegal robocallers and push mobile carriers like AT&T and Verizon to “improve their technology so that consumers can more easily figure out if calls are real or spam.” On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to take an initial vote on the bill, which is expected to pass. [Tony Romm / The Washington Post]

Google will require temporary and contract workers to have benefits like health care coverage and paid parental leave. After sustained pressure from employee activists, Google will mandate that its temporary and contractors workers — known internally as “TVCs” — receive some of the same benefits as full-time employees, along with a $15 minimum wage. Google relies on TVCs for around half of their total workforce in what’s been called a two-tiered system of employment. Since temporary and contract workers are hired by outside staffing companies, those third-party firms — not Google — will be mandated to provide the newly required benefits. Meanwhile, TVCs and their supporters are still pushing for a ban on forced arbitration clauses in their contracts with Google’s suppliers and better treatment in the workplace. One group of recently laid-off TVCs in particular, 34 writers working on Google’s voice assistant software, are accusing Google of letting them go before their contracts were supposed to end. [Emily Birnbaum / The Hill]

The Justice Department is stepping in to defend the right of streaming services like Netflix to submit their movies to the Oscars. Recently, there have been reports that the Academy Award’s governing body might not allow submissions from movies that debut on streaming services like Netflix instead of in theaters. According to a memo obtained by Variety, the chief of the DOJ’s antitrust division, Makan Delrahim, wrote to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ CEO voicing concern that new rules could be written “in a way that tends to suppress competition.” This year, Netflix’s Roma made waves by being the streaming service’s first title to be nominated for an Academy Award for best picture. [Ted Johnson / Variety]

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