YouTube is currently facing heavy criticism revolving around how it enforces — or more accurately, how it doesn't enforce — its policies relating to hate speech and discrimination. With that in mind, I'm not quite sure how adding more policies will help, but that's just what the company is doing. YouTube announced today that it will begin removing videos that promote white supremacy, Holocaust denial, and other types of damaging content that has frequently been found on the platform.
The company wrote in a blog post, "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. This would include, for example, videos that promote or glorify Nazi ideology, which is inherently discriminatory. Finally, we will remove content denying that well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, took place."
While it's great to see YouTube finally start to remove content that has radicalized countless individuals and spread misinformation, it remains to be seen if these rules will actually be enforced. The company is currently embroiled in a controversy relating to how it doesn't enforce policies universally — Vox video producer Carlos Maza has been repeatedly attacked with homophobic remarks from YouTube commentator Steven Crowder (which is against current rules), but the company declined to take any action (Update: Crowder's channel is now demonetized).
Following yesterday's new guidelines on group superiority and history denial, many YouTube creators documenting examples of those topics (for example, educational and activist channels) found their videos demonotized.
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
The purge has been referred to on social media as the #VoxAdpocalypse, even though the conflict between Steven Crowder and Carlos Maza is a completely unrelated matter. YouTube posted yet another blog post today specifically about the conflict and its new policies:
In the case of Crowder’s channel, a thorough review over the weekend found that individually, the flagged videos did not violate our Community Guidelines. However, in the subsequent days, we saw the widespread harm to the YouTube community resulting from the ongoing pattern of egregious behavior, took a deeper look, and made the decision to suspend monetization. In order to be considered for reinstatement, all relevant issues with the channel need to be addressed, including any videos that violate our policies, as well as things like offensive merchandise.
In the coming months, we will be taking a hard look at our harassment policies with an aim to update them — just as we have to so many policies over the years — in consultation with experts, creators, journalists and those who have, themselves, been victims of harassment. We are determined to evolve our policies, and continue to hold our creators and ourselves to a higher standard.