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YouTube Accused Of Censorship 522

Posted by Hemos
from the the-joys-of-running-content dept.
writes "According to WorldNetDaily, Youtube is engaging in censorship. A quote from the article summarizes well: The popular video-sharing YouTube site, which is being purchased by Google for $1.65 billion, limited access to a political ad that mocks the Clinton administration's policy on North Korea, but contains no profanity, nudity or other factors generally thought objectionable." It's also worth pointing out that WorldNetDaily could be described as just wee bit conservative
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YouTube Accused Of Censorship

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  • censoring (Score:2, Funny)

    by geoffspear (692508)
    Nothing for you to see here. Please move along.

    YouTube is censoring Slashdot now, too! Aieyeeee!
  • by gasmonso (929871) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:06AM (#16421909) Homepage

    It's not YouTube per say, it's people flagging the video as inappropriate. That causes the restriction to be put on. Once YouTube became aware of that, they immediately removed the warning. I just watched the video on YouTube.

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by aonaran (15651)
      Mods please mark parent informative, I fear this one is going to get out of control if this comment gets buried
      • The question of "why" it gets flagged is even easier to understand, when the post itself includes commentary like

        "It's also worth pointing out that WorldNetDaily could be described as just wee bit conservative"

        Was this comment absolutely necessary or even relevant to the story? Has free speach suddenly become restricted for a person that is "just a wee bit" one way or the other? The entire point of the accusation of censorship is that any speech at any level was moderated.

        Certainly YouTube has rules - no sexually explicit content, fine. But I just read their terms of use and I don't see anything about moderation of content that may be a "wee bit conservative."

        Then again, it's like mods on Slashdot (which I believe may have been at least a part of the point of the parent post) which is that given the ability to moderate, people will always mod down speech they don't agree with, completely disregarding said person or organization's absolute right to say it.

        Disappointing indeed that the "flagged" content wasn't reviewed by YouTube and simply left be, being that it doesn't violate the terms of use of the site.
        • No, the point was that a site who has no clue about what is actually going on (nor has the desire to check the facts) is crying "'They' are censoring conservatives". That site happens to be -surprize- conservative.
          • On top of that, they are crying about something that is really not important to today's politics. Bill Clinton is sooo yesterday's news, and while I'm not in favour of censoring anti-Clinton satire, this seems not very newsworthy.
          • by caseydk (203763) on Friday October 13, 2006 @11:26AM (#16423851) Homepage Journal
            Actually, this has been going on for quite a while and WND is just now picking it up.

            YouTube - or its viewership - has been blocking videos critical of Islam, terrorism, etc but has hosted Hamas propaganda without comment. One incites violence, the other does not.
        • by Senior Frac (110715) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:44AM (#16422413) Homepage

          Was this comment absolutely necessary or even relevant to the story? Has free speach suddenly become restricted for a person that is "just a wee bit" one way or the other? The entire point of the accusation of censorship is that any speech at any level was moderated.

          It is a tenet of critical reading skills. We always teach our students to "consider the source" when reading and "consider the audience" when writing. Giving the reader a heads-up about any historical political bias is a legitimate act.

          I fail to see how free speech has been restricted as you appear to imply. They said it and anybody can read it. If any source has a history of being a wingnut, of any persuasion, policital or otherwise, then potential readers will benefit from knowing.

          • by idontgno (624372) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:55AM (#16422565) Journal

            If any source has a history of being a wingnut, of any persuasion, policital or otherwise, then potential readers will benefit from knowing.

            Because a tenet of critical reading skills is to pigeonhole your source, so you can predict what they're going to say in advance. That saves the grubby annoying trouble of deciding for yourself the trustworthiness of the source by, say, examining multiple samples of the source's work.

            I know I'm awfully grateful when someone points out the heretics for me in advance.

            • by falsified (638041)
              WorldNetDaily ain't CATO or the Federalist Society. They get pigeonholed because they're hacks, just like some of the more annoying lefty bloggers could be as well (like those 9/11 conspiracy wackjobs - no offense if you actually have some evidence or argument to back up your conspiracy). You work at a shit factory, and nobody's surprised at your product selection.
            • by crabpeople (720852) on Friday October 13, 2006 @12:45PM (#16425231) Journal
              "Because a tenet of critical reading skills is to pigeonhole your source"

              You're right. As I am sure its an unbiased site, lets take a sampling of other headlines from this wonderful site:

              Why liberals channel Lucifer
                    - By Kevin McCullough

              The underestimated communicator
                    - By David Limbaugh
              (Pro bush article)

              More talk won't stop nuclear Iran
                    - By Jerome Corsi

              And regarding the video (did you even watch it?), it was just complete flamebait and should have been blocked. I mean it was from the director of scary movie, aka fart jokes for 10 year olds.. His political intelligence obviously hasnt matured much beyond that.
              Do you also hate it when people forwarn you about going to goatse links? Or would you prefer that goatse wasn't "pigeonholled"?

          • by physicsphairy (720718) on Friday October 13, 2006 @10:17AM (#16422879) Homepage
            You are right, of course.

            However, it is also worth pointing out the pervasive hypocrisy. For example, during all the instantiations of Robert A Kennedy's election conspiracy theories, the +5 modded comments have taught us the error of judging the validity of content by the politics of the source. But when anybody who has committed the grievous error of being conservative has anything to say, we learn about the essentials of using knowledge of bias to sieve information.

            In short, people only care about logical fallacies when they're not amicable to their own personal cause.

        • I guess the writer could have said - "The Conservative WorldNetDaily" instead, but the topic shouldn't be taken serious, so the writer ended it on a non-serious note. People are too sensitive around this time of the year with their Political Menstrual Syndrome. Try not to get all bent out of shape about it.
    • by geoffspear (692508) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:09AM (#16421947) Homepage
      The best part is that the article explains in detail how the flagging process and review that got it unflagged works, and then goes on to blame the liberals at Google for the users of youtube flagging content.
      • by qw(name) (718245) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:19AM (#16422077) Journal

        If it was any other year besides an election year nobody would care. But since the political karma is high this season, everyone's quick to cry "censorship".

      • by El Torico (732160) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:19AM (#16422089)
        Both P and GP posts are correct. The video is available with no restrictions or warnings, and the article has this statement,

        "Maryrose, of The YouTube Team, said if any video viewer flags a video as inappropriate, it is forwarded to a queue for the company's customer support team to review."

        Basically, the WorldNetDaily either is too stupid to understand what happened or is ignoring facts. Either way, it raises questions about their competence and/or honesty. If they are stupid or dishonest about this, then what else are they wrong about?

        • by mdarksbane (587589) on Friday October 13, 2006 @10:41AM (#16423223)
          "Maryrose, of The YouTube Team, said if any video viewer flags a video as inappropriate, it is forwarded to a queue for the company's customer support team to review."

          Man, that's got to be a good job. Sitting around all day looking at movies that people have marked as porn.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Trailer Trash (60756)
          They might be wrong about this video, but the fact is that plenty of Michelle Malkin stuff has been outright removed *by youtube*. At the same time, the jihadi videos aren't removed, even if they're flagged. While Michelle Malkin may be controversial, the videos that I've seen which were subsequently removed definitely didn't fit any definition of inappropriate.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cheezedawg (413482)
        From the documentation on youtube.com, when users flag a video as being inappropriate, it is forwarded to youtube employees for review. Therefore, the fact that access to the video was indeed limited for a while indicates that the censorship did come from youtube- at least for a while until that decision was overturned.
        • Nowhere in that documentation or in the terms of use does it state that in the period between flagging and review by YouTube employees, the content will be available with no warning. The "censorship" only "came from youtube" in that their software automatically adds the warning to flagged content. There was absolutely no decision by anyone at YouTube to "censor" a particular video based on its content.

          If I create a document with the text "Bush sucks!" and someone drags it to the recycle bin on my windows
    • Also there is the forthcoming YouTube AntiPiracy system [yahoo.com]. or as one wit put it: YouTube is preparing to implement new technology necessary to make it suck

      A technology designed to detect copyright material could give YouTube a needed dose of legal legitimacy and calm any concerns Google Inc. has about spending $1.65 billion on the Internet video site. But that same technology could hurt YouTube's edgy appeal.

      While YouTube is known as the place to find almost any kind of video clip, recent agreements with h
    • by OakDragon (885217)
      It's not YouTube per say, it's people flagging the video as inappropriate.

      So it's like people at digg burying a story as 'inaccurate' when the don't agree with the content of the story? Or the mods at Slashdot moderating a post as 'Troll' when they don't agree?

      And by the way, I never thought I would see a WorldNetDaily story on Slashdot's front page. I'm looking out my window for flying pigs. I can't wait to see what this thread devolves to.

    • Every major news organization has asked YouTube why the video got flagged as inappropriate. YouTube has not given a reason.

      If the answer was as simple as the user community flagging the video, why don't they just say that?
    • by stevew (4845)
      Uhm - seems to me that YouTube has created a system that allows this to occur. So yeah - it is YouTube.

      Simple facts are that there has been a whole series of conservative posters having their content removed and or being banned from YouTube. When you look at what was banned you find out that anything containing political speech from the conservative point of view is getting nailed.

      So that is suppression of political speech which is supported by the reporting system in place at YouTube.

      They may have re-igni
  • Good or Bad? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by N8F8 (4562) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:07AM (#16421921)
    Bad, if you consider YouTube a news or public information site.

    Good, possibly, if they are pandering to their target audience to maximize viewership. You don't get equal time on the Daily Show either.

    And yeah, I'm one of those conservative folks who was annoyed by this; but hey, its a entertainment site.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by endemoniada (744727)
      Precisely. Had YouTube been some sort of public service channel, censoring something submitted by users would be rather bad taste. However, they're not, and they have every right to chose what kind of material they want to show or not show on their own site.

      This is no more censorship than any webforum anywhere on the Internet. Certain things are allowed, other things aren't.
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      It's a private company and a private website. They can put whatever they damn well want on it.

      Funny that these conservatives never seem to object to the right-wing bias of the private talk radio industry (which even goes out over public radio spectrum).

      -Eric

      • Re:Good or Bad? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dsci (658278) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:46AM (#16422427) Homepage
        Funny that these conservatives never seem to object to the right-wing bias of the private talk radio industry (which even goes out over public radio spectrum).

        What bias of the INDUSTRY are you talking about? Let's not be disingenuous here. Liberals have all the opportunities conservatives do to field talk shows. I've heard them on the air, actually. Several of them.

        The problem you have to face is that talk radio, like any other radio format (except perhaps NPR, which shows quite a liberal leaning most of the time), is a BUSINESS. The talkers must gain an audience and keep it, so that the stations can sell advertising.

        A factual analysis of the liberal attempts at talk radio show that they just don't make money. It seems there is less of a market for liberals bashing of conservatives than most liberals would care to admit.

        One last point: those airwaves are not really public - the stations, via their broadcast license, "owns" a frequency in their market. It's misleading to act like this is analogous to "conservatives can stand on the public street corner and say what they want, but liberals cannot." As I opened my reply, liberal talk show hosts have the same opportunities in the business conservative ones do.
  • I seem to remember a certain video game simulation of the Clinton era whitehouse being featured on YouTube. I think it ended with "You lose. It's your wife!"
  • bogus (Score:5, Informative)

    by Stalyn (662) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:12AM (#16421981) Homepage Journal
    The video [youtube.com] is up and no longer flagged. A video becomes flagged when enough users mark it and then a YouTube employee will either verify it should be removed/flagged. In this case they removed the initial flag and kept the video.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RevMike (632002)

      The video is up and no longer flagged. A video becomes flagged when enough users mark it and then a YouTube employee will either verify it should be removed/flagged. In this case they removed the initial flag and kept the video.

      If that is the case, then no problem. According to the article the a video is flagged only when a YouTube employee reviews the video - at the request of the community - and decides that it should be flagged. Do you have any references that say the article got it wrong?

      Assuming

      • Re:bogus (Score:5, Informative)

        by Stalyn (662) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:31AM (#16422253) Homepage Journal
        YouTube users can flag any video as containing pornography, mature content or graphic violence, depicting illegal acts or being racially or ethnically offensive. A video is removed -- as Ms. Malkin's was on Sept. 28 -- only if a review by the company's customer support department agrees that it is inappropriate, or that the video is on its face in violation of the site's terms of use.

        NYTimes - "A Slippery Slope of Censorship at YouTube" [nytimes.com]
      • Actually, according to the article no content is removed without being reviewed, it's given a warning.

        Also, according to the article, the flagging was removed before the article was actually posted on the website. That is, the author and editors knew that YouTube wasn't censoring the content and wrote an article about how they were censoring the content anyway. If that's doesn't show dishonesty and a complete lack of journalistic integrity, I don't know what does.

        It's be like if a liberal news site po
    • Watch it (Score:2, Funny)

      by pubjames (468013)
      Yes, I just watched it.

      I don't know about anyone else, but that video is very persuasive. Its intelligent and serious perspective on the issues has made me realise how the current situation with North Korea is actually the fault of the Democrats. I suggest everyone watches it to see the quality of discourse on the Republican side of this debate.

  • So what? (Score:3, Informative)

    by endemoniada (744727) <nathanielNO@SPAMendemoniada.org> on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:13AM (#16422007) Homepage
    Youtube is a "private" site. It can, and obviously will, censor whatever the hell it will.

    There is no constitution on the Internet. There is no free speech. There is only the right to say whatever the hell you want, and hope someone will listen to you. If they don't, too bad.

    That said, I don't approve of censoring anything. I think it's cowardly and serves no real purpose other than to shield people from things they may not necessarily want to be shielded from. But it IS the right of youtube to chose what they want to have on their site, and what the don't want. Obviously, they don't want people being overly political. That's their call.

    Deal with it.
  • limited access to a political ad that mocks the Clinton administration's policy on North Korea, but contains no profanity, nudity or other factors generally thought objectionable.

    Yes, it's important that we only censor based on one arbitrary set of factors than a different arbitrary set of factors.

  • Some idiot marked Harold Pinter [youtube.com]'s lecture inappropriate aswell. I had to register on youtube just to be able to watch that video.

    The video is highly critical of the USA, but I don't see anything inappropriate in it.
    • by pubjames (468013)
      Yes, marking that video as inappropriate is terrible. How can a lecture by a nobel prize winner be inappropriate?

      It is interesting to contrast the intelligent, clear discourse of Pinter's lecture with the Benny Hill style of that political advertisement.
  • wee bit? (Score:3, Funny)

    by JanneM (7445) on Friday October 13, 2006 @09:30AM (#16422229) Homepage
    It's also worth pointing out that WorldNetDaily could be described as just wee bit conservative

    Yes, like Charles Manson was a wee bit disturbed.

    • hrm (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Nasarius (593729)
      Does anyone else get the feeling that the Slashdot userbase is more conservative than the rest of the population? Bush's approval rating hovers around 35%, but the number of uprated pro-Bush comments on recent political posts is astonishing. Apparently, intelligence and critical thinking don't go hand in hand. Economics is always debatable, but how does any thinking person look at the Bush foreign or social policy and see anything but corruption, insanity, and abject failure?
      • by krell (896769)
        "but how does any thinking person look at the Bush foreign or social policy and see anything but corruption, insanity, and abject failure?"

        The other side said the same about Clinton. This particular "debate" boils down to whether or not you like the guy because he is in your political side (or against your political side).
  • If there already censoring profanity and nudity what's wrong with censoring other content.

    Personally I don't think they should be censoring anything.
  • It could've been flagged as inappropriate for the comments, not the video. Several of them are calling for the assassination of Clinton.
  • YouTube Censorship (Score:2, Interesting)

    by thethibs (882667)
    It's also worth pointing out that WorldNetDaily could be described as just wee bit conservative

    Like Slashdot could be described as just a wee bit liberal?

  • The video is plainly accessible.
  • If you're surprised, you're not paying attention.
  • by xzvf (924443) on Friday October 13, 2006 @10:20AM (#16422907)
    The censorship comes from the culture of the users at YouTube. It works the same way in real life verifying the importance of the 1st amenendment. Movies that draw full theaters in NY and LA bomb when released nation wide. Pro-Abortion activists have poor results speaking in southern towns. Bush avoids the NAACP convention, Clinton avoids predominately white churches. While I don't use youtube, I suspect the audience is not friendly to content they don't agree with. I suspect Google and YouTube want everyone to participate, but like slashdot unpopular opinions get shouted down.
  • by Dausha (546002) on Friday October 13, 2006 @10:45AM (#16423279) Homepage
    YouTube is not, in my mind at least, capable of censoring. YouTube is a private enterprise, not the Government. You have no First Amendment recourse against YouTube. As there is no recourse, there is no censoring.
  • by funwithBSD (245349) on Friday October 13, 2006 @11:46AM (#16424113)
    Disclaimer: I vote my way, that tends to be conservative, but I have voted for Democrats in the past, such as Clinton in 1992.

    They have banned several Conservative video makers, including Michelle Malkin and HotAir. They have done so recently, despite carrying the videos for over a year without any issues.

    Now, Google, the company that bought them, has refused to carry Michelle, LFG, and others as NEWS sites based on the fact that they blog, not present new news. Here are the letters from Google:


    Hi Michelle,

    Thank you for your note. We have reviewed www.michellemalkin.com but cannot include it in Google News at this time. We do not include news-related blogs or other news-related sites that are written and maintained by a single individual. Similarly, we do not include sites that do not have a formal editorial review process. We appreciate your taking the time to contact us and will log your site for consideration should our requirements change.

    Regards,
    The Google Team

    And LGF:


    Hi Charles,

    Thank you for your note. We reviewed http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog [littlegreenfootballs.com] and cannot include it in Google News at this time. We do not include sites that are purely news aggregators, and we were not able to find any stories on your site that were not from outside sources.

    We will log your site for consideration should we alter our policy. Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

    Regards,
    The Google Team


    BUT they allow several other blogs to be indexed as news, as Charles from LGF points out:


    Note that the Google News index now searches quite a few blogs (including Power Line, Polipundit, and Wonkette) and includes other sites with, to say the least, serious credibility problems (including hard-core anarchist site Infoshop, and Justin Raimondo's paleocon antisemitic site antiwar.com). In this context, Google's reply to me seems rather odd.


    Other sites of questionable news worthyness but indexed as news: Democratic Underground, Uruknet.info, and Dailykos.

    Now if you want to hold yourself out as a "News" indexing service that only indexes news and claim no bias, you have serious issues. Lets point out that Google donates almost exclusively to Democrat candidates and causes and you have a clear bias.

    A clear bias when you claim to have none is a problem

    I am resonably convinced, barring YouTube or Google coming out and saying it, that they scrubbed the videos as part of the merger deal. As in, no scrub, no deal.

    Source for above info: http://michellemalkin.com/archives/001431.htm [michellemalkin.com] . Yes yes, she is involved and has an axe to grind, but she also puts together the facts nicely.
  • Censorship? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Some_Llama (763766) on Friday October 13, 2006 @01:20PM (#16425879) Homepage Journal
    I would say more like public service. Is it still "censorship" when the "information" is a blatant lie?

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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