Internet censorship – YouTube
As the Internet becomes more and more commonly used by the public, almost everyone nowadays is available to reach the information all over the world. This is very convenient to most of us. However at the same time, there are a lot of different kinds of information was uploaded and shared on the internet, but not all of those are suitable for all kinds of people to visit. Hence Internet censorship exists.
Internet censorship limits what information can be published or viewed on the Internet and what cannot. Governments and other organizations often use Internet censorship to block access to copyright information and harmful or sensitive content(Schmidt, Eric E.; Cohen, Jared, 2014). At first, it was used only by the Internet community rather than governments or official organizations in order not to get the government to obstruct freedom of speech. It was only used to protect some people out of some information that is harmful to them. But that line of what is harmful and what is not is sometimes very blurry and hard to define.
Well, there is a very popular website that most of the people like to visit. It is called YouTube. It is considered to be a place where everyone is equal. Everyone can watch the other’s videos and upload their own videos. Even the website itself stated that “Our mission is to give everyone a voice and to show them the world. We believe that everyone deserves to have a voice, and that the world is a better place when we listen, share and build a community through our stories.” But is that really what they do?
In about half a year, Youtube has announced that they are demonetizing videos from small channels, Which means that any of the videos they post will not be able to get advertisement and therefore will not have profit(Pringle, 2016). Also, the video will not be seen by the viewers who are on restricted mode, which is supposed to only filter the videos that have inappropriate content. It is very unfair to those creators as it makes their videos even harder to be seen by the public and also harder for the creators to build up their channels.
Demonetizing videos are supposed to be good for the viewers and the advertisers, where it can protect young viewers from seeing something they should not see and protect the advertisers that their products will not be promoted together with some inappropriate content. Demonetizing videos from small channels are not helping but also taking away the chance of the new creators to be seen by the viewers when their videos are not inappropriate for anything.
There are already records of youtube blocking and demonetizing videos that are not supposed to be blocked from people. Some music videos were blocked when some lyrics were misheard as bad language. In about a year ago youtube are demonetizing videos from LGBT creators just because they are LGBT related. Youtube has also blocked some videos for political reasons.
In YouTube’s website, they have stated those videos that will be censored when one of the 12 situations occurs. They are Nudity or sexual content, Harmful or dangerous content, Hateful content, Violent or graphic content, Harassment and cyberbullying, Spam, misleading metadata and scams, Threats, Copyright, Privacy, Impersonation, Child endangerment, Additional policies. But some of them are not that clear and contain grey areas. However, when the company received reports, they will instantly censor those small videos which have few benefits to them without further investigation.
To those videos benefiting them on the other hand, This is whole another story.
This year in the early January, there is an incident that grabs the whole world’s eyes. Logan Paul, a famous youtuber, posted a video onto youtube and got blamed by people around the world. Logan Paul was one of the most famous youtuber. He posts vlogs on youtube for a living and currently has over 17 million subscribers on his youtube channel(Maloney D., Hudson L., 2018 Apr). In December 2017, he went to Japan and got some vlogs about that trip posted on youtube. And in one of those vlogs, he filmed on a hanging dead body in Aokigahara forest which is also known as suicide forest. That video was posted on youtube for one day and already got six millions of views online. And soon he deleted the video from his channel by himself. And posted a video apologizing about that.
Although Logan had deleted the video very soon after getting criticized by the public, people are concerned about the youtube company’s reaction in this event. It is said that when the video was released to the public through YouTube, not only did the company not put down the video due to violations of the community regulations but even it was manually selected by officials to put it to the top video list(Z. 2018). Like they encourage people to watch the videos that the youtuber make, as long as the youtuber is famous enough to help the company make profits.
This series of accusations gradually pushed YouTube to the public opinion center. As this is a very utilitarian act of a media platform.
Regarding this happening, youtube did respond to the public. However, this is after a whole month when the incident happened. They responded in Twitter saying that they have been listening to everything that people have been saying and that they will improve and preventing incidents like this happening in the future. And they also paused all the collaboration of youtube and Logan as the punishment for his action.
We don’t know will things like this happen in the future, but they had definitely happened in the past. PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg) posted a video made a video that included a slogan ‘Death to all Jews.’ which he paid a man to hold it for him(Kain, 2017) Although he stated that he was ironic and he later apologized. But because his channel is still the largest channel on YouTube, and he works closely with Disney Production Studio and with YouTube Red, people still blame YouTube for managing it well. Also, there were terrorist groups used YouTube to upload and monetize videos which are promoting terrorism(Kain, 2017).
When there are cases of youtube allowing inappropriate videos showing on their platform only because the producers of the video help the company’s business, Is the platform still a safe place for creators and advertisers?
We can see that there is a very big difference in the treatment between those who help the company make profits and those who do not. As a company, it may be the only way out, but as a platform for creators, it is very unacceptable. since it is a platform to give people chances, not to stop people from living, they should treat everyone equally without any bias.
- Alexander, J. (2018, February 20). Lesser-known YouTubers band together on ‘Demonetization Day’. Retrieved from https://www.polygon.com/2018/2/20/17032900/demonetization-creators-youtube-subscribers-small-youtuber-army
- BBC. (2018, January 11). YouTube punishes Logan Paul over Japan suicide video. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-42644321
- Cheong, I. M. (2018, January 17). YouTube Demonetizes Small Channels With New Partnership Policy. Retrieved from http://dailycaller.com/2018/01/17/youtube-demonetizes-small-channels-with-new-partnership-policy/
- Kain, E. (2017, September 19). YouTube Wants Content Creators To Appeal Demonetization, But It’s Not Always That Easy. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2017/09/18/adpocalypse-2017-heres-what-you-need-to-know-about-youtubes-demonetization-troubles/#30f784056c26
- Logan Paul’s Suicide Forest Video. (2018, April). Retrieved from http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/logan-pauls-suicide-forest-video
- Maloney, D., & Hudson, L. (2018, April 30). YouTube star Logan Paul is ending his daily vlogs. Retrieved from https://www.theverge.com/2018/4/30/17303330/logan-paul-daily-vlog-ending
- Priddy, M. (2017, September 22). Why Is YouTube Demonetizing LGBTQ Videos? Retrieved from https://www.autostraddle.com/why-is-youtube-demonetizing-lgbtqia-videos-395058/
- Pringle, R. (2016, September 12). ‘De-monetizing’ YouTube: What will you see? | CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/youtube-advertising-demonetization-1.3755626
- Policy, (n.d.).YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/intl/en-GB/yt/about/policies/#community-guidelines
- Schmidt, Eric E.; Cohen, Jared (11 March 2014). “The Future of Internet Freedom”. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/12/opinion/the-future-of-internet-freedom.html
- YouTube, (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/intl/en-GB/yt/about/
- Z. (2018, January 11). 網紅Vlog遺體事件吵翻天，YouTube終於回應：我們有在聽 | 4Gamers. Retrieved from https://www.4gamers.com.tw/news/detail/34124/youtube-logan-paul-ban-ad-partner-red-monetization-canceled-
- 藍. (2018, February 10). 不知悔改？網絡紅人 Logan Paul 再闖禍. Retrieved from https://unwire.hk/2018/02/10/logan-paul-taser-dead-rats-tide-pods-youtube/fun-tech/