When is the best time to pretend to be a neutral and open platform? Probably not after banning several accounts for content.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki released a creator blog ”Preserving openness through responsibility” Tuesday August 27. She declared her commitment to the video sharing website being an “open” platform while also proclaiming a commitment to liberal values.
The CEO of YouTube WHO released a memo about how open YouTube is as a platform the very day after YouTube deplatformed numerous channels with massive followings. After public outrage some accounts have been allowed back online.
Her creator blog wrote that YouTube’s policy “sometimes means leaving up content that is outside the mainstream, controversial or even offensive. But I believe that hearing a broad range of perspectives ultimately makes us a stronger and more informed society, even if we disagree with some of those views.”
She listed four “Rs” that would guide YouTube policy going forward:
- “We REMOVE content that violates our policy as quickly as possible.”
The blog followed by citing their reforms to “pranks and challenges, child safety, and hate speech” related content:
- “We RAISE UP authoritative voices when people are looking for breaking news and information, especially during breaking news moments.”
This part can be highly problematic for a few reasons. When platforms pick content curators, they themselves can be highly biased in choosing what sources they consider “authoritative.” Can users trust a Big Tech platform to choose what is or is not fake news?
- “We REDUCE the spread of content that brushes right up against our policy line.”
With YouTube frequently changing its policies as far as controversial theories and content, users might have cause to be concerned over where this supposed “policy line” is.
- “And we set a higher bar for what channels can make money on our site, REWARDING trusted, eligible creators.”
YouTube’s fiasco of its 2018 Rewind, an annual video made by YouTube to celebrate the past year’s viral videos and creators, showed a profound disconnect with their audience. YouTube is highly political in terms of curating who is and isn’t worth rewarding by boosting their popularity.
The idea of YouTube “raising up” certain sources and channels is highly suspect, especially with an election looming. YouTube’s Twiddler system literally rigs the order of search results based upon a massive blacklist of key terms.
YouTube’s initial appeal as a platform was that it was an alternative to mainstream news and entertainment, made by and for the common (and often rebellious) viewer. Some of these reforms, if implemented to their full extent would fly in the face of their community.
The YouTube memo about openness came the day after multiple channels, some of which were more on the political fringe than others, were eradicated from YouTube after a hit list was put out by the ADL.
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt spoke at a February 26 panel hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, where he bragged that his organization is working with Big Tech companies to “protect users right to not be harassed or hated.” Greenblatt served as “special assistant to President Obama” and before that “directed an initiative at the Aspen Institute, a George Soros-financed, left-leaning nonprofit.”
Greenblatt also cited phrases like “caravan” and “open borders,” as “literally white supremacist phrases that have worked their way through the system.” Essentially, he equated standard conservative arguments to white supremacy.
NewsBusters TechWatch contacted YouTube for comment, asking why so many channels were being deplatformed and received no response.
However, the following day, many channels that were reinstated. Some channels, whose fans say broke none of YouTubes’ strict Terms of Service, remain deplatformed.
InfoWars responded to YouTube’s proclamation of openness by relaunching its YouTube channel. Shortly after that however, YouTube banned the controversial channel once again later that day. Infowars tested YouTube’s commitment to being an open platform and found it lacking.
Google whistleblower Zach Vorhies tweeted in response “Remember how @SusanWojcicki stated #YouTube was an open platform the other day? Yeah turns out she was gaslighting us... once again.”