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Cleansing the Platforms: YouTube, Censorship and Grievance

Binoy Kampmark

Image source: Heartland News

Stripping the altars, burning the heretics and cleansing the stables are the usual fare of a morally crazed order. The engaged agents think they have found the reason for existence and need to bother everybody else about it. Some of this can be a very dangerous thing indeed – at least historically.

Those who claim to know the truth are the very sort who are happy to fill the morgues, ban the theatres and destroy musical instruments. But when it comes to matters of social media, we are dealing with more mediocre fare. Currently, there is a spurting, childish wonder at the moves by YouTube to excise, cut and move the stuff that might be considered naughty, offensive, indoctrinating and what not.

A burning issue centres on weeding out milk white supremacist content, merely another part of the recent surge against what might be described as extremist content (these terms remain infuriatingly vague). The Christchurch pledge, an understanding reached by heads of state and Silicon Valley tech giants last month to target such unsavoury content, proved catalytic.

On June 5, YouTube announced that it was “specifically prohibiting videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status.” Videos promoting or glorifying Nazi ideology are furnished as examples that will be removed including content “denying that well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, took place.”

An email from YouTube acknowledged that this would come with its problems:

We know this might be disappointing, but it’s important to us that YouTube is a safe place for all. If content breaks our rules, we remove it.”

This measure has already led to the removal or hiding of videos that document hate speech and activities for journalistic and educational purposes.

Scott Allsop, a history teacher based in Romania, had his channel banned for hosting archival footage featuring Nazi propaganda, including newsreel footage of Hitler’s speeches.

Organisations with anti-racist platforms, such as the One People’s Project, have also faced the removal of information videos designed to discuss and combat racism. Never say that makers of digital platforms cannot be ironic.

YouTube did acknowledge in these changes that “some of this content has value to researchers and NGOs looking to understand hate in order to combat it”.

This, as ever, remains the problem when a platform dictates the content of the conversation and what is permitted to circulate in it.

Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Centre’s Intelligence Project mentions the obvious technical problem.

It indicates that [YouTube] have not refined well enough the difference between someone who is exploring issues of racism and hatred and someone who’s promoting it.”

The censoring mentality is not merely dangerous towards content, but attitude. It encourages contrived fragility and the aggrieved to strike back at the disagreeable and unpleasant, not in terms of ideas but in terms of neutralisation.

Carlos Maza of Vox, for instance, is making a case that the platform should be rigorously structured and censored to avoid offence on matters of sexual orientation, race and gender. He naturally makes the case that he has “pretty thick skin when it comes to online harassment” but proceeds to claim to being so bothered, he needs YouTube to take action.

Such skin, it seems, wears thin in battle, peeling off before the silly, the absurd and even the obscene. “Since I started working at Vox,” tweeted Maza, “Steven Crowder has been making video after video ‘debunking’ Strikethrough. Every single video has included repeated, overt attacks on my sexual orientation and ethnicity.”

Crowder is not to be encouraged, but nor should Maza in his thin-skinned, boiled down courage. Both should be allowed to wallow in the necessary shallowness that YouTube permits, a sort of drain-level behaviour that passed for human interaction on the internet.

To suggest a moral high point is to arrogate higher civilizational (dare one use the word these days?) properties to a quibble, a scatty skirmish.

More problematically, any action removing discomforting content has a broader implication, stifling conversations and discourse that might be seen, subjectively, to be offensive, an essential feature of much human intercourse. The acquisition of genuine knowledge is rarely a comfortable, let alone safe thing.

YouTube was never going to come through with a clear line, though it decided to demonetize Crowder after initially concluding that the offensive videos, while “clearly hurtful” did not “violate our policies.” Words desperately seeking a spine were mentioned. “Even if a video remains on our site, it doesn’t mean we endorse/support that viewpoint.”

The company’s public relations team is no doubt going through the sleepless routine of placating and pacification. “Today,” the company tweeted on June 5, “has generated a lot of questions and confusion. We know it hasn’t been easy for everyone. Going forward, we’ll be taking a closer look at our own harassment policies, with the aim to update them.”

The point of taking aim at Crowder is a quasi-judicial assessment of his case. No laws were broken, nor rules infringed except a certain understanding of community guidelines, liberally interpreted under pressure. YouTube was keen to give a digital surgeon’s answer to the whole Maza-Crowder mess, one confused by what to do with its scalpel: “Thanks again for taking the time to share all of this information with us. We take allegations of harassment very seriously – we know this is important and impacts a lot of people.”

Identifying the issues behind this crib worthy spat are not difficult. Grievance will have its day, and Maza is working the identity system like a gibbering pro. Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, who has a good line in understanding what it is like being harassed and mocked on matters of sexual orientation and politics, suggested that it would never occur to him to “run to social media companies to beg for censorship.”

To Tucker Carlson, he put forth his vision: “I don’t want to live in a world where our discourse is policed and determined by benevolent overlords, who run Silicon Valley companies, you know, who are always going to cater to the most powerful faction.”

Perhaps we are already too late.

Maza is not looking beyond his personal issue, which has, as with others in the offended business, a way of magnifying. The aggrieved want vengeance, seeing a world in a tweet and eternity in a video.

YouTube rewards engaging content. Hate speech is engaging. So YouTube rewards hate speech.”

The implication in this silly summation by Maza is obvious: avoid the platform or badger the platform into heeding his interests.

Over to you, YouTube.

Originally published on CounterPunch
Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]
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Deschutes
Reader
Deschutes

Just this past month YouTube has deleted two accounts-

1) Anna News, Abkhazian Network News Agency- this state run news agency was one of the few channels on YouTube which reported from the Syrian/Russian side of the conflict, as well as covering the Iran conflict from Iran’s perspective. The quality and depth of its reporting was quite good. YouTube deleted their channel without any warning or explanation last month.

2) Press TV – Iranian government’s YouTube channel, reported on all Middle Eastern news from the Iranian perspective. YouTube without warning pulled the plug on this channel last month. Maybe the only channel that gave the other side of the story vis-a-vis Iran vs USA conflict. Remarkable for its being banned, as its reporting was quite restrained and of a mediocre quality.

The take-away from these two channels being banned by YouTube is information war, i.e. the USA and Israel do NOT want English speaking viewers to have any access to how their invasions and wars are perceived by the victims of their aggression. Yes, it’s really an outrage, this type of censorship. And its done as the author here states under the false pretense of “keeping YouTube a safe place” or some similar bullshit excuse to censor America’s and Israel’s enemies.

It would be great if there were alternative websites to YouTube where this disgraceful U.S. State Dept censorship would not happen, where all differing viewpoints would be allowed. Yes, you can go to Vimeo, Live Leak, Bitshute, D-Tube etc. but there is nothing available by comparison. YouTube has a monopoly, follows US government censorship dictates, and that means channels that air Iranian, Syrian, Russian perspectives will be censored and banned.

Steve Hayes
Reader

I guess all those videos on YouTube with Barack Obama claiming the US is the one indispensable nation will have been removed already.

Antonym
Reader
Antonym

Well the most supremacist ideology was and is Islam: everybody else is just a kaffir. ISIS used exactly the (US) social media to spread and was not stopped for years. These truths you won’t find in On-Guardian nor!Off-Guardian because ….?

mark
Reader
mark

“Goyim were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world, only to serve the People of Israel. Imagine that one’s donkey would die, they’d lose their money. This is his servant. That’s why he gets a long life, to work well for this Jew. Why are Gentiles needed? They will work, they will plough, they will reap. We will sit like an effendi and eat.”
Ovadia Yosef, Chief Rabbi of Israel.

“Our Race is the Master Race. We are divine gods on this planet. We are as different from the inferior races as they are from insects. Other races are beasts and animals, cattle at best. Our destiny is to rule over the inferior races. The masses will lick our feet and serve us as our slaves.”
Menachem Begin.

“The goyim are not humans. They are beasts.”
Baba Mezia 114b.

“Even the best of the goyim should be killed.”
Soferim 15.

“All Gentile women without exception are menstrual filth, slaves, heathens and whores.”
Sanhedrin 81b.

“If we get caught, they will just replace us with persons of the same cloth. So it does not matter what you do. America is a golden calf and we will suck it dry, chop it up, and sell it off piece by piece until there is nothing left but the world’s biggest welfare state that we will create and control. Why? Because it is the Will of God and America is big enough to take the hit, so we can do it again and again and again. That is what we do to countries that we hate. We destroy them very slowly and make them suffer for refusing to be our slaves.”
Netanyahu.

Seamus Padraig
Reader
Seamus Padraig

ISIS? You mean the Israeli State of Iraq and as-Sham? That Riyadh/Tel Aviv psy-op?

George
Reader
George

These “truths” you won’t find in On-Guardian nor!Off-Guardian because they are the manufactured drivel compulsively spouted by the mainstream media.

different frank
Reader
different frank

Is that what all the cool kids are saying around the water cooler at Hasbara central?

Bill
Reader
Bill

Truth often hurts, so the logic is, that truth is often hate speech, so should be banned.

Capricornia Man
Reader
Capricornia Man

The world has no shortage of people claiming an unlikely victimhood in order to silence others with views they disagree with. Think of an MP who claimed their situation in the UK Labour Party was like that of a Holocaust victim.

On a more mundane level, there are posters in the comments section of some websites who complain to moderators that they’ve been “abused” when another poster has simply questioned their views. Some moderators obligingly censor the alleged abuser without granting a right of reply.

George
Reader
George

“Think of an MP who claimed their situation in the UK Labour Party was like that of a Holocaust victim.”

That was the odious Margaret Hodge, answered by Noman Finkelstein:

“You felt it was like 1930s, when you got a letter from the disciplinary committee. I wonder Dame Hodge when you were in sixth grade and your principal called you down to his office, did it bring back memories of the Holocaust? Or maybe you got a letter from the tax office, and they called you down, did that remind you of the Holocaust? What’s the point… What’s the relevance… What’s the pertinence of dragging in the suffering, the death, the martyrdom of what Jews endured during World War II in this context, except to cheapen and exploit the memory of Jewish suffering, as you carry on a blackmail and extortion racket against Jeremy Corbyn.”

Video here:

mark
Reader
mark

There are Jewish figures of exceptional integrity, people like NF, Max Blumenthal, Ron Unz and many others. When the Netanyahu Gangster Regime dropped 20,000 tons of US and UK supplied bombs on Gaza during one of its many recent genocidal pogroms, I saw a group of rabbis and Orthodox Jews who were honoured guests at a Gaza Solidarity public meeting.

People like this are routinely subjected to extreme harassment and intimidation by Zionist filth.

threedawgs123
Reader
threedawgs123

The next time my comment is evaporated by this website I will find out where the executives and owners of this website live!

axisofoil
Reader
axisofoil

That was a silly thing to say.

Robbobbobin
Reader
Robbobbobin

No use. They don’t keep them at home.

threedawgs123
Reader
threedawgs123

Whose them?

axisofoil
Reader
axisofoil

them= comments

threedawgs123
Reader
threedawgs123

???

axisofoil
Reader
axisofoil

Wow. A real disconnect here.

Mucho
Reader
Mucho

With Silicon Valley fast relocating to Tel Aviv, it doesn’t take a fortune teller to see where all this is heading. The Talpiot program, basically Israeli military intelligence embedding itself in all the major companies around the world, with a massive focus on infiltrating influential tech companies, is bearing its fruits now, and people should take heed.
Best research on this coming from Brendon O Connell:
Part 1 of 8 – ISRAELS SECRET WEAPON THE TALPIOT PROGRAM

threedawgs123
Reader
threedawgs123

The 95-97% of humanity that allows their own tyranny by not violently eradicating it are equally at fault for this global totalitarian oppression, impoverishment, and murdering of themsrlves.

ZigZagWanderer
Reader
ZigZagWanderer

Have seen this series by Brendon O Connell previously but decided to use Muchos’ link to watch again.
It’s a fairly sober but detailed look at Israeli military intelligence involvement in tech companies.
What is new this time around is the heavy restrictions placed on this video by YouTube .

“In response to user reports, we have disabled some features, such as comments, sharing, and suggested videos, because this video contains content that may be inappropriate or offensive to some audiences.”

“Inconvenient” should be added to ” inappropriate or offensive “.

At least it is still up there ( for the time being ) even if there is very little chance of anyone ever finding it.

I watch YouTube less and less these days as more of the political content is censored or removed altogether.

YouTube will always be no. 1 for fluffy kitten or how to build a shed videos though.

Mucho
Reader
Mucho

“infiltrating influential tech companies” ….. should say creating and operating them as well

Bill
Reader
Bill

It sounds like silicon valley has found its spiritual home.

Maggie
Reader
Maggie

” Videos promoting or glorifying Nazi ideology are furnished as examples that will be removed including content “denying that well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, took place.”

We don’t have to look very far to know who is censoring all things anti Zionist.

“You pluck the chicken one feather at a time, and people don’t really notice.” — Benito Mussolini… quoted by the evil Madeleine Albright. Remember that as you listen to the Chicken-Pluckers and are tempted to just flip the bird and move on.
Yelling at the screen just isn’t enough

Peugeot
Reader
Peugeot

It allows the warmongering yanks,Israel, the UK, and France the bomb the hell out of the world without criticism

threedawgs123
Reader
threedawgs123

They are doing way worse than bombing. They are part of a cabal, primarily the enforcement mechanism, that allows a handful to control all wealth, power, resources, opportunities, and propaganda for their benefit alone, and for the oppression, impoverishment, and murdering of everyone else on the planet.

axisofoil
Reader
axisofoil

That’s a bit grim. Here’s something on the brighter side.
https://religionnews.com/2019/04/25/the-satanic-temple-is-a-real-religion-says-irs/