Yesterday, former YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced that she would be stepping down and that YouTube’s Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan would be the new CEO.
During Wojcicki’s tenure, which ran from February 5, 2014 till February 16, 2023, YouTube made many unpopular decisions such as introducing far-reaching “hate speech” and “harassment” rules, restricting creators that produce content that’s “made for kids”, and hiding public dislikes. Wojcicki also made many public statements in support of censoring creators based on broad and subjective terms such as “misinformation.”
But Mohan, who joined Google in 2007 and became YouTube’s Chief Product Officer in November 2015, was a high-ranking and influential YouTube executive for much of Wojcicki’s tenure.
The Chief Product Officer is responsible for all product-related matters and is usually in charge of product strategy and product vision. And according to Wojcicki, Mohan has led YouTube’s Trust and Safety team — the team that’s responsible for censoring content and crafting censorship policies.
Mohan and Wojcicki also worked together long before either became YouTube executives. Wojcicki said she brought Mohan to Google in 2007 and that she has worked with him since he joined the company.
Mohan would often promote and defend controversial YouTube policies while Wojcicki was CEO.
He repeatedly supported YouTube’s policy of artificially boosting so-called “authoritative” sources instead of the independent creators that helped to build the platform.
Mohan made one of his most infamous statements on this topic in 2020 when he said creators “espousing” opinions “in their basement” can’t provide context on the news. Mohan used this basement analogy to justify the importance of boosting “authoritative voices.”
In 2019, Mohan revealed that YouTube was working on its controversial “creator-on-creator harassment” rules. These rules resulted in creators being hit with harsh punishments for going “too far” with insults, mockery, and jokes.
Mohan also announced YouTube’s decision to retroactively delete several videos from comedian Steven Crowder because they violated this new harassment policy, despite the videos being compliant with YouTube rules when they were uploaded. At the time, the practice of retroactive enforcement was rare on YouTube but since this announcement, it has become increasingly common….