Earlier this year, YouTube parent company Google announced they were partnering with the Anti-Defamation League in an effort to help ensure the platform became a “safe space for all.” Unsurprisingly it wasn’t long before stories started to emerge that this new Thought-Police initiative was targeting a broad spectrum of Conservative and Alt-Right videos while leaving rule breaking Far-Left videos standing.Since this enforcement went into practice last summer, just how the system worked behind the scenes has remained largely a mystery. With no real consistency or pattern forming in terms of what kind of content was removed versus what was allowed to stay. Also odd was that some videos seemingly were terminated almost instantly, while others were allowed to stand for months before suddenly being removed from the platform.
Recently however one pattern in behavior has started to become increasingly obvious. Which is that videos shared on 4chan’s infamous politically incorrect board seem to increasingly be targeted by this new form of internet censorship. With just this morning one user pointing out that a video which was discussed heavily last night on the web site has now suddenly been put in YouTube’s new limited viewing state. A sort of YouTube jail, reserved for content deemed controversial, and pending possible future removal.
What is most noteworthy here is that this video has been up since September and had almost a quarter of a million views already. Clearly implying that before being spread on /pol/, YouTube was either not aware of the video or simply under the impression it was perfectly harmless. Harmless may be the key word here as the video in question was merely a ten second loop of video game footage with some music playing in the background. Now it would seem that after being posted on /pol/, the video suddenly has become offensive and rule breaking in a way that it hasn’t been for the past ten weeks.
Perhaps the greatest irony regarding the video’s removal is that it featured footage and music from a game celebrated by the Left. In fact Nazi murdering simulator Wolfenstein 2 is apparently the new game of choice among the AntiFa crowd, and even ran Anti-Trump ads as part of its marketing campaign. Obviously the concern from YouTube here is that people are liking the game for the “wrong reasons”, but that doesn’t explain why a ten second clip was removed, when thousands of videos remain on the site showing off the entire game in full.
Given the mainstream media’s recent panic regarding 4chan’s role as an alleged hub of dangerous Alt-Right activity. Even to the extent that the Democratic leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee has called for a preliminary investigation into the site. It’s not really too surprising that groups like the ADL are monitoring activity there. Which is probably why other users have started reporting similar cases as well now.
Like with Conservative censorship on Twitter and other major social media platforms, a private company can do what they want argument can certainly be applied here. At the end of the day, Google is free to block whatever they want on YouTube. That doesn’t mean these companies shouldn’t be open and transparent about their polices however. Either Youtube needs to start enforcing it’s rules consistently among all political ideologies, or start openly admitting the site is only welcoming to certain points of view. These sites can’t continue the hypocrisy of proclaiming themselves both dedicated to creating a safe online space and to the principles of free speech rights at the same time.
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