YouTube recently hired a new team of more than 10,000 people to moderate content on the site after several major reports came out about the site’s laissez-faire attitude towards videos aimed at impressionable children. While that was probably a wise move on the part of Google, YT’s parent company, the first wave of “moderation” from these hires has some conservative publishers concerned about where all of this is really going. Are these moderators here to scrub the site clean of bizarre children’s videos…or are they here to enforce some misguided liberal agenda on the part of their tech masters?
In the wake of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, some YouTube moderators mistakenly removed several videos and some channels from right-wing, pro-gun video producers and outlets.
Some YouTube channels recently complained about their accounts being pulled entirely. On Wednesday, the Outline highlighted accounts, including Titus Frost, that were banned from the video site. Frost tweeted on Wednesday that a survivor of the shooting, David Hogg, is an actor. Jerome Corsi of right-wing conspiracy website Infowars said on Tuesday that YouTube had taken down one of his videos and disabled his live stream.
Shutting entire channels would have marked a sweeping policy change for YouTube, which typically only removes channels in extreme circumstances and focuses most disciplinary action on specific videos. But YouTube said some content was taken down by mistake. The site didn’t address specific cases and it’s unclear if it meant to take action on the accounts of Frost and Corsi.
A YouTube spokesperson said the removals were a mistake and blamed the errors on new employees who hadn’t quite worked out all of the policies yet.
“As we work to hire rapidly and ramp up our policy enforcement teams throughout 2018, newer members may misapply some of our policies resulting in mistaken removals,” the site said. “We’re continuing to enforce our existing policies regarding harmful and dangerous content, they have not changed. We’ll reinstate any videos that were removed in error.”
Hmm, are you buying it? Were these removals made in error? Or is YouTube testing the waters to see what it can and can’t get away with in this online political climate?
The site has already angered conservatives with its biased approach to a feature called “Restricted Mode,” which it has employed to hide some content from schools and other organizations who opt-in to the feature. Last week, YouTube put a PragerU video about Planned Parenthood into Restricted Mode, baffling observers who noted there was nothing more explicit in the video than in many pro-abortion videos on the site.
The political culture wars are not bound to settle down anytime soon, and conservatives have every reason to be suspicious when something like this happens. Facebook, Twitter, and Google have not earned the benefit of the doubt. Vigilance is required.