YouTube Just Fired the First Shot in a New War on Journalism
YouTube Just Fired the First Shot in a New War on Journalism by Emma Fiala for Activist Post
Wednesday morning, news began circulating warning that YouTube was about to delete thousands of accounts in the platform’s latest wave of censorship. This time, the massive video sharing platform claimed to be targeting hateful content, “supremacists,” conspiracy theorists and anything that promotes discrimination or segregation based on sexual orientation, religion, race, gender, age and more.
Upon hearing the news, regular consumers of independent media knew exactly what to expect: Censorship. Corporate platforms use these vague terms that sound nice in theory to cast a wide net that also de-platforms independent, anti-war, and rational voices. Whether this is done on purpose or is a consequence of using artificial intelligence and algorithms to monitor content remains to be seen.
Youtube is about to do a purge. What do you think?https://t.co/QeLAmN2VAJ
— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) June 5, 2019
YouTube claims to have made the decision following a review of its own rules on hateful content. In a blog post, the platform wrote:
Today, we’re taking another step in our hate speech policy by specifically prohibiting videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status.
The announcement continued:
We will begin enforcing this updated policy today; however, it will take time for our systems to fully ramp up and we’ll be gradually expanding coverage over the next several months.
YouTube’s blog post continued:
The openness of YouTube’s platform has helped creativity and access to information thrive. It’s our responsibility to protect that, and prevent our platform from being used to incite hatred, harassment, discrimination and violence.
We are committed to taking the steps needed to live up to this responsibility today, tomorrow and in the years to come.
According to YouTube, users should anticipate changes that will alter what content is populated in the “up next” sidebar and the ability for users to earn ad revenue by promoting harmful content. The platform also hinted that it will attempt to work with affected users who make content that is useful to researchers.
Shortly after news spread that a YouTube crackdown was on the horizon and the policy began taking effect, YouTube content creators swept up in the crackdown began receiving emails from YouTube and immediately sharing their frustrations—and their screenshots—on social media.
James Allsup, a history teacher from the British School of Bucharest, was banned for “hate speech.” According to a tweet, the teacher’s “channel featured around 120 historical clips I collated for teachers and students, covering various aspects of world history over the past 1000 years. The Nazi material made up around 10% of all videos.”
YouTube have banned me for ‘hate speech’, I think due to clips on Nazi policy featuring propaganda speeches by Nazi leaders. I’m devastated to have this claim levelled against me, and frustrated 15yrs of materials for #HistoryTeacher community have ended so abruptly.@TeamYouTube
— Mr Allsop History (@MrAllsopHistory) June 5, 2019
Deep Fat Fried Podcast, which calls itself “an educational show made by and for the uneducated,” was demonetized for “hate speech.”
— Deep Fat Fried (@Deepfatfriedpod) June 5, 2019
According to Buzzfeed, demonetized users included “James Allsup, Austrian Identitarian Martin Sellner, Swedish white nationalists Red Ice TV, and Swedish white nationalist bodybuilder Marcus Follin” as well as Jesse Lee Peterson, a conservative minister who created videos of Rep. Ilhan Omar and more.
Others had videos deleted, including “far-right personality Gavin McInnes and unsuccessful European parliamentary candidate Mark Meechan.” And still others, including neo-Nazi channels Thulean Perspective and The Great Order as well as history teacher Scott Allsop, had their accounts completely removed.
Also swept up in the chaos was a channel dedicated to documenting—without opinion or bias—some of the most important events currently happening in the United States. Immediately after being informed via email that his channel was demonetized and his livelihood ruined, News2Share’s editor-in-chief Ford Fischer took to Twitter to vent his frustrations.
Within minutes of @YouTube‘s announcement of a new purge it appears they caught my outlet, which documents activism and extremism, in the crossfire.
I was just notified my entire channel has been demonetized. I am a journalist whose work there is used in dozens of documentaries. pic.twitter.com/HscG2S4dWh
— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) June 5, 2019
Not long after—and on his day off to boot—News2Share producer Alejandro Alvarez got wind of the situation.
Hey guys off the grid for a day what’s up – YouTube did what now? To who now?
— Alejandro Alvarez (@aletweetsnews) June 5, 2019
As a documentary journalist, Fischer did what he does best and began documenting the extensive history of News2Share along with evidence that the purpose of his channel is merely to document current events for the purpose of understanding those events and provide critical analysis.