It just occurred to me that social media earned another ally in the alleged war against freedom of speech. The newest soldier? None other than Google’s monopolized behemoth of online video-sharing services: YouTube.
Ah YouTube, everyone’s favorite excuse for procrastination, and the catalyst for humanity’s universal cat video addiction. A person generally turns to YouTube for entertainment purposes, an escape from the otherwise tedious aspects that compose our daily lives. However, lately the website has taken quite the political turn.
YouTube is one of the most influential contributors to online media. However, as expected, with great power comes great responsibility, along with a higher risk of tarnishing said responsibility. This is exactly what the platform has been accused of doing behind the scenes for nearly a couple years now when a substantial amount of users complained of suspicious behavior on the part of their accounts. This includes videos appearing in a user’s recommended videos feed that have nothing to do with his interests whatsoever, noticeably bias algorithm changes in video searches, and unsubscriptions from followers.
Something smells fishy amongst YouTube’s ambience and it doesn’t help that the website is nearly impossible to reach for complaints. Yet, this is nothing new. Over the years, users have been forced to endure countless layout changes and now I fear, this next one may be the worst.
According to The Hill, YouTube altered its terms of service in the past year specifically to combat the problem of “hate speech” and “supremacist content” all over its site. A noble endeavor. That is, until a person realizes that YouTube has always dealt with both since its debut.
Videos demonstrating such qualities just never gained enough popularity to be considered a problem. Users posted them on YouTube simply because they could. The difference now is, these topics of “hate speech” and “supremacist content” are currently more relevant than ever.
The events in Charlottesville for example, sparked a spike in content that was, “controversial,” to say the least. Numerous videos were posted regarding the subject of white supremacy, the Black Lives Matter movement, ANTIFA, and the constant resurrection of the liberals vs. conservatives debate.
It goes without saying that several videos posted to the site during the following weeks have been and will continue to attempt to tackle each of these controversial talking points, from one perspective or another.
If I’m being honest, a user choosing to discuss any element within the ballpark of one of these topics, tends to lean harshly towards one side of the fence than the other. Google doesn’t want that, however, at least not entirely.
Edmund Kozak of PoliZette, the political branch of LifeZette, a news and commentary website, claims it has become brutally obvious that YouTube is silencing youtubers that do not fit the mold as to what should be expected as a response to an event like Charlottesville.
While the inherent option is to condemn white supremacy, as I believe it should, not everyone has taken or will take that approach. As a result, a user’s video is bound to be taken down. The same applies to videos that ask tough questions or push boundaries; something YouTube was once revered for.
It seems YouTube wants to establish ground rules for what can and can’t be said online, which many interpret as a threat on free speech. The site was founded on principles to have different opinions and express them how one chooses.
Limiting this would technically go against that policy, right? I may not agree with what a racist has to say, but I agree with his or her right to say it.