Wednesday, September 04, 2019

YouTube, despite recent reassurance of an open platform, seems to double down more on independent political and social commentary

Although Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO, says she wants an open platform (which doesn’t mean the right to monetization), there have appeared disturbing signs in the past few days that it is getting tougher on some political content.
The official YouTube blog starts a series “The 4 R’s ofResponsibility”; it also issued statistics showing the reasons for Community Guidelines.  

This seems to be the first of a series, and refers enhanced machine detection of content before it is uploaded or seen by many viewers.
The Hill and some other sources report YouTube’s removal of over 100000 videos under new hate speech rules, but that is small compared to over 9 million videos (4 million channels) that are spam.
The controversial hate speech rules are still those listed on June 5, 2019 (video in May).  The most important seem to have to do with supporting “white supremacy” or “white nationalism” but YouTube will say that this policy is abstract:  no ideology that allows one group to capture or exclude or subjugate another is allowed – it so happens that given American (and European) history this is likely to affect “the right” more.   It might seem to allow Communism (but not Fascism) because Communism is supposed to apply across an entire country regardless of other groups.  But it would allow intersectionality because that ideology is premised on a group’s claim of prior oppression.  Yet, the rules could compromise the integrity of independent political commentary because of the circumstantial bias with respect to certain groups.
There are other problems:  it would make any science studies of accidental racial genetic differences (like sickle cell anemia, or anomalies related to sunlight exposure) possibly risky, or talk of relative birth rates (related to future demographics) risky, even though these are very relevant for problems like the future of Social Security in the U.S.  It could make discussions of reparations (especially involving native lands, or overseas as in South Africa) racy.    It could channel discussion of LGBTQ issues into intersectional channels rather than looking at them in the individually nuanced way necessary for discussion issues like gays in the military (settled 2011) and now transgender in the military.  
Tim Pool notes in his Timcast today that he feels YouTube is retroactively removing content that did not violate any rules and even allowing bad comments to cause a video to removed (or is this just the channel?)  Pool (as does Pakman) feels that YouTube wants to discourage independent political commentary channels and direct creators to work for established media companies or (like Facebook) raise money for established non-profits. This question came up at the Minds conference in Philadelphia Aug. 31.  

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