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Is YouTube censoring its creators (again)?

Most people would agree that harassment and bullying shouldn’t be allowed on YouTube.

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Image: Press Gazette

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When YouTube headlines become breaking news, it usually makes creators groan. Even though the platform has connected the world in new ways and grown exponentially since its creation in 2005, it’s famous for creating policies that create as many problems as they solve.

Recently, news broke that YouTube announced an update to their harassment policy. It narrows down their definition of what counts as harassment and when they will remove a video for violating that policy. Not too terrible, right?

Things became murky when the company enacted the new rule. YouTube began looking over videos after the announcement on December 11th and took down two prominent videos that were part of YouTube’s history. Read on to learn why the company may be censoring its creators again and what the future of online videos might look like.

Why It’s Needed

In the past, videos on YouTube could reach the top of its trending page while still containing degrading content. Anything that included insults or jokes about people based on their race, gender or sex snuck through the gray area of YouTube’s guideline policies. 

It became clear that YouTube needed to change when Carlos Maza, a gay journalist, received consistent homophobic harassment from YouTube creator Steven Crowder, and YouTube could do nothing to remove the content.

Now, with the new policy, Crowder can no longer make monetize his videos and the videos have been removed. 

The Problem

content cop idubbz youtube

Image: YouTube

Although the new policy has been helpful, it’s pretty vague. That vagueness led to the removal of many videos, including the popular video “Content Cop- Leafy.”

Content Cop is a series of commentary style videos created by iDubbbz (Ian Carter). In each episode, Carter chooses a YouTube creator and criticizes their content in a comedic way. To date, Carter has earned 46 million views on just one episode. 

However, on Dec. 11th,  the Leafy Content Cop joined a long line of videos being removed for violating YouTube’s policies despite being in compliance with YouTube’s existing guidelines at the time of posting. 

Besides its retroactive removal, most of the backlash came because many felt the video was pure satire, and hence, shouldn’t have been removed even under the new policy. Carter, makes many jokes about “bullying” gaming creator Leafy. However, it could be said this is only because Leafy has been accused of harassment in the past.

The Ghost of YouTube’s Past

The removal has called attention to YouTube’s history of censoring creators without warning because of new vague rules. This is evident through many creators having their videos removed, demonetized, or hidden without explanation. 

This latest harassment policy has many wondering if YouTube has finally gone too far in an effort to remain “advertiser-friendly,” by sacrificing satire, comedy, and opinions of its most authoritative creators.

What the Future Holds

Most people would agree that harassment and bullying shouldn’t be allowed on YouTube. However, only time will tell the cost of this new policy. 

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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If I had to guess, I’d say that my fascination with technology, science, and “the way things work” has its roots in my thoroughly LEGO-strewn childhood. Now, I write about gadgets, technological progress, scientific discovery, and the intersection of technology and politics.

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