Google's CEO was grilled about a bizarre YouTube conspiracy theory claiming that Hillary Clinton drinks the blood of children

  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai was grilled about a wild YouTube conspiracy theory that claims that Hillary Clinton drinks the blood of children.
  • It followed a report from The Washington Post, which said the so-called "Frazzledrip" conspiracy is alive and well on YouTube.
  • Democrat Jamie Raskin asked how Google is dealing with the Frazzledrip conspiracy.
  • Pichai was careful to dodge specifics, but acknowledged YouTube needs to do more to tackle misinformation. 

Sundar Pichai faced a barrage of bizarre questions during his first Congress grilling on Tuesday. The Google CEO was asked why pictures of President Donald Trump come up when you image search the term "idiot," and was also forced to politely explain that iPhones are made by Apple, not Google, to Rep. Steve King.

But perhaps the strangest line of questioning came from Democrat Jamie Raskin, who picked up a copy of The Washington Post, and began citing lines from its report on a twisted YouTube conspiracy theory that claims that Hillary Clinton drinks the blood of children.

RELATED: The 11 richest YouTube stars in the US

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The 11 richest YouTube stars in the US
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The 11 richest YouTube stars in the US

11. Liza Koshy 

Subscribers: 13.5 million

Liza Koshy, formerly a prominent Vine comedian, started to gain a massive following on YouTube in 2016 with humorous videos that she produces weekly. Koshy has since gone on to star in the Hulu series "Freakish!" and Tyler Perry's horror-comedy "Boo! A Madea Halloween."

10. Jake Paul 

Subscribers: 13.5 million subscribers

2017 estimated salary: $11.5 million

Jake Paul started out as a personality on the now-defunct Vine, creating comedic shorts with his older brother, Logan Paul (the eighth most popular YouTuber in the US). Paul now posts comedic videos, original music, and other material on his personal YouTube account. He has also become something of a villain in pop culture, as has his brother (see No. 8).  

9. Roman Atwood 

Subscribers: 14.260 million 

Roman Atwood is an Ohio-based vlogger who posts prank videos and other humorous daily-life updates that often involve his girlfriend and three kids. In November, Atwood premiered his own YouTube Red series, "Roman Atwood's Day Dream," which focuses on "extreme stunts."

8. Epic Rap Battles of History 

Subscribers: 14.269 million

Epic Rap Battles of History started as a live improv skit by two friends, but quickly become an online sensation. Founders Peter Shukoff (NicePeter) and Lloyd Ahlquist (EpicLloyd) pick two figures from history or pop culture and imagine what it would be like if they faced off in a rap battle. The videos are entertaining, with characters as varied as Darth Vader, Adolf Hitler, Abraham Lincoln, and Chuck Norris verbally battling one another in full costume.

7. Logan Paul 

Subscribers: 16.6 million

2017 estimated salary: $12.5 million

The former Vine star and older brother of Jake Paul has over 16 million followers on his personal YouTube account, where he posts vlogs and reaction videos. Paul drew intense criticism in January for filming the body of a man hanging from a tree in Japan's Aokigahara forest. YouTube withdrew some of its backing of Paul in the wake of the controversy by removing him from Google Preferred and putting his YouTube original projects on hold. 

6. Fine Brothers Entertainment (FBE) 

Subscribers: 16.7 million

Brooklyn natives Benny and Rafi Fine are the two online producers/writers/directors who created the successful React video series. In React's various iterations — Kids React, Teens React, Elders React, and YouTubers React — the brothers show viral videos to people and film their reactions. In 2016, they were involved in a controversy over trying to copyright the React video form that drew widespread backlash and led to a campaign to unsubscribe from the duo's channel.

5. JennaMarbles 

Subscribers: 17.83 million

JennaMarbles (real name Jenna Mourey) has long been one of the most recognizable stars on YouTube. Though she started her career with BarStool Sports, Mourey soon moved into video after posting "How to Trick People into Thinking You're Good Looking," which quickly blew up. Her channel features comedic videos about being a young millennial woman.

4. Markiplier

Subscribers: 19.5 million

2017 estimated salary: $12.5 million

Mark Fischbach, known as Markiplier, is a YouTuber focused on gaming. He has an energetic style. Fischbach has ambitions beyond YouTube, as well. He once told Variety that he wanted to "push [himself] into music and acting." 

3. NigaHiga 

Subscribers: 20.4 million

Ryan Higa, who goes by the username NigaHiga, was one of the first major YouTube stars. Higa produces a variety of comedy videos, including sketches, music videos, and short commentaries on pop culture. His videos have high production value and a professional touch, with a quick, funny, and incisive sensibility.

2. Smosh 

Subscribers: 22.8 million

2017 estimated salary: $11 million

Smosh, started by comedy duo Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla, was one of the first YouTube sensations, becoming well known for the duo's slapstick comedy videos that parodied video games and pop culture. Anthony Padilla left the Smosh channel in June 2017 to create his own solo YouTube account, which now has over 2 million followers.

1. Dude Perfect 

Subscribers: 26.8 million

2017 estimated salary: $14 million

Dude Perfect is a channel from twins Cory and Coby Cotton and three of their college friends from Texas A&M, all of whom are former high school basketball players. They do sports tricks and comedy, some of which makes fun of sports stereotypes.

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The so-called "Frazzledrip" conspiracy was feverishly spread by far-right internet users earlier this year, at which point YouTube removed a bunch of clips. But the Post claims that "dozens of videos" discussing the roundly debunked theory remain online and have been viewed millions of times.

The Post brought 16 of the videos to YouTube's attention. Only one was removed for violating its policies. It featured images of a "body on a table before restrained children" and "Clinton with a bloodied mouth and fangs," the Post said. YouTube does not have a policy to remove misinformation, the Post said, but will take down graphic or violent content and hate speech.

After directly quoting from the Frazzledrip report, Raskin asked Pichai: "What is your company policy on that? And are you trying to deal with it?" 

The Google CEO was careful to dodge the specifics of the Frazzledrip conspiracy, refusing to reference it directly in his responses to Raskin. He did, however, say YouTube needs to do more to tackle misinformation.

"We are constantly undertaking efforts to deal with misinformation. We have clearly stated policies and we have made lots of progress in many of the areas... over the past year — so, for example, in areas like terrorism, child safety, and so on," he said, adding that he would follow-up on the specifics of Raskin's request.

At the heart of YouTube's handling of such videos is balancing the website's function as a platform for free speech with its need to protect users from inappropriate content. With 400 hours of new video uploaded every minute, according to Pichai, that is not an easy task.

"It’s our responsibility, I think, to make sure YouTube is a platform for freedom of expression, but it’s responsible and contributes positively to society," he said. "But I want to acknowledge there is more work to be done. With our growth comes more responsibility. And we are committed to doing better as we invest more in this area."

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