YouTube blocked Trump but refuses to pull sick anti-Asian burglary rap

Video sharing platform YouTube, a subsidiary of tech giant Google, has been blasted for its refusal to pull a rap video that describes how to pull off an armed burglary and suggests racially targeting Chinese people because “they don’t believe in bank accounts”.

The tech giant has agreed that the song is “highly offensive” and “painful for many to watch” but refuses to pull it down – despite being willing to suspend the account of then-sitting US President Donald Trump in January.

In January the platform also briefly suspended the account of major UK radio channel TalkRADIO, before reversing the decision on the basis of “exceptions for material posted with an educational, documentary, scientific or artistic purpose”.

The sick tune was released by the rapper YG, who made headlines in 2019 after kicking a fan out of his concert for refusing to say “fuck Donald Trump” on stage.

It details the process of conducting an armed burglary in “a Chinese neighborhood”, saying: “You conscious ’cause you know you got nines with two clips on you / But fuck that, motherfuck that plasma / And fuck that laptop, go and get that jewelry box / You tryna get paid? Go take that jewelry box to the Slauson / They’ll give you cash back in the same day”

The rapper responsible for the song was arrested last January on robbery charges and has a prior 2009 conviction for burglary.

In a staff memo, YouTube management said: “We’ll start by saying we find this video to be highly offensive and understand it is painful for many to watch, including many in Trust & Safety and especially given the ongoing violence against the Asian community. One of the biggest challenges of working in Trust & Safety is that sometimes we have to leave up content we disagree with or find offensive… Sometimes videos that otherwise violate our policies are allowed to stay up if they have Educational, Documentary, Scientific or Artistic context.

“In this case, this video receives an EDSA exception as a musical performance. While EDSA is not a free pass for any content, there are likely thousands of music videos that would otherwise violate policies including Sex & Nudity, Violent or Graphic Content and Hate Speech were it not for these sorts of EDSA exceptions.

“As a result, removing this video would have far-reaching implications for other musical content containing similarly violent or offensive lyrics, in genres ranging from rap to rock. While we debated this decision at length amongst our policy experts, we made the difficult decision to leave the video up to enforce our policy consistently and avoid setting a precedent that may lead to us having to remove a lot of other music on YouTube.”