by Taylor Lorenz · April 3, 2018
After declining to answer questions, the company said after this article was first posted that it would allow employees to talk to the press about it.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated throughout.
Hours after the Tuesday’s shooting at the company’s headquarters and 34 minutes after this story was first posted with the headline “YouTube Won’t Let Employees Talk About Shooting at HQ,” the company told The Daily Beast that “We have not banned any employees from speaking to the press.”
As soon as the gunfire started in San Bruno, California, several employees began live-tweeting. Vadim Lavrusik, a YouTube product manager, wrote “Active shooter at YouTube HQ. Heard shots and saw people running while at my desk. Now barricaded inside a room with coworkers.”
Todd Sherman, another product manager, wrote: “We were sitting in a meeting and then we heard people running because it was rumbling the floor. First thought was earthquake… We headed towards the exit and then saw more people and someone said that there was a person with a gun. Shit.”
Hours later, Sherman tweeted he wouldn’t do interviews and directed all questions to Google PR.
An eyewitness spoke to The Daily Beast just after the shooting on the condition of anonymity, citing YouTube policy. Another YouTube employee said he wasn’t aware of any specific ban related to the incident, but was wary to speak even about his own personal experience due to YouTube’s strict policy.
One man who tweeted—then deleted—a thread of text messages from his friend at YouTube who was inside the building, said his friend was instructed by YouTube not to speak to any media “per Google policy.”
Prior to the statement YouTube sent to The Daily Beast at 8 p.m., 34 minutes after this article was first posted, a spokesperson had failed to respond to multiple questions about the company’s policy and instead pointed to an unrelated tweet sent by Google PR:
“Re: YouTube situation, we are coordinating with authorities and will provide official information here from Google and YouTube as it becomes available.”