YouTube Censorship – Removing alternate opinion

Written by on February 20, 2019

With a single tweet YouTube unleashed a stream of frustration at itself. Speaking with regards to the incoming EU laws governing online behaviour and copyright regulations (Articles 11 and 13) the streaming service’s twitter account stated “Imagine if you couldn’t watch your favourite videos.” The backlash was instant and brutal and focused on the hypocrisy of a business that has recently announced that it’s algorithms will be changed in order to stop videos covering certain topics from showing up in recommendations and to show lower in the search results.

As with the terms of service for the site, the category for the videos that would be, in a sense, hidden was ‘conspiracy theories.’ This is in line with similar actions taken by Facebook and Twitter, each platform with their vague and ill-defined terms of service and faceless programmers entrusted with sorting good and bad content.

The idea that I could type good and bad content without quotation marks is an issue in itself, one born out of me snacking as I type, and yet it seems fitting for an age when information is so frequently attacked, both in its consumption and presentation. This would be the second time in recent months that moves have been taken towards alternative forms of media, the mass banning of Alex Jones from all social media platforms being the first, and most well publicised.

So why was Alex Jones important? Firstly, we see the precedent set. There is a person that is not liked by the main stream media, though was often used to gain clicks, views and shares, that there could be a rallying call against. This was a person that shared differing views from the mainstream narrative, and was often contentious as a result. His removal from these platforms was met with approval. Following this there have been many groups and individuals removed from Facebook for a number of political reasons that are either not given coverage, or wilfully ignored by the media. These people seemed blissfully unaware of the repercussions of such moves against an individual and how this could restrict their own expression.

The Jones case also showed how malicious actors could mass in order to silence or indeed remove content and creators from platforms. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey mentioned on The Joe Rogan Experience that the reason Alex Jones was not banned from Twitter at the same time as he was from other platforms was that they had not received any complaints about his conduct. However, this would change quickly once Twitter had made it clear that it was not in step with other platforms as the complaints came in thick and fast and Jones was removed from the system. Similar behaviour has been seen on YouTube for a while with people being able to have videos blocked for copyright infringement. This has led to a number of people using these systems in order to have videos removed regardless of whether there were any copyrighted materials included in the video.

The issue that a lot of people raise is with regards to what is considered a conspiracy theory. NSA spying, Bernie Sanders not receiving the Democrat nomination in 2016, Covington controversy, Russia collusion, The Jussie Smolett case (currently causing people to receive community guidelines strikes for harassment), Watergate, The Gulf of Tonken, Operation Northwoods, Bohemian Grove, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Jimmy Saville, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Iceland’s treatment of bankers after 2008 and the Integrity Initiative are all examples of things that could have been, or could be considered ‘conspiracy theories’ in one way shape or form. In all cases the truth was not what we were told in the official story by the media or by politicians.

Although YouTube frames the move against ‘conspiracy’ videos as a way of defending against the proliferation of ‘fake news’ it may actually be harming the spread of real information and truth as a result, or maybe that’s the plan #conspiracyhippo.

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