YouTube has been under fire for “mistakenly” shutting down multiple conservative channels on its platform.
Recently, the video-sharing website hired 10,000 new moderators to identify and block channels publishing “far-right” conspiracy videos. These moderators were hired in December after Google CEO Susan Wojcicki made a public statement to crack down on instances of hate speech.
However, in their effort, it appears that YouTube’s moderators have simply slammed the hammer on conservative content.
In the wake of the deadly shooting at Parkland School, the moderators were trying to block conspiracy videos about the event that could offend the victims, friends, and families impacted by the tragedy. However, YouTube claims that many of the new employees were overzealous and accidentally flagged or deleted many more mainstream conservative channels and videos.
YouTube has since promised to restore or unblock all material that has been mistakenly deleted.
This situation doesn’t appear to be related to YouTube’s recent decision to ban Atomwaffen, a neo-Nazi group. This group’s channels have been banned for severe violations of the hate speech rules on the platform.
While YouTube is placing the blame for the mishap on their newly hired and inexperienced moderators, many conservative uploaders are skeptical. Many expressed their distaste for the screw-up. Some accused the video-sharing website of being bitterly biased. One user on Twitter said, “Does @YouTube understand about half the country is conservative? It’s rather easy to find them for your team of screeners.”
Wojcicki pledged to focus on curtailing hate crime after users complained that content unsuitable for children was not being caught by YouTube’s kids filter. More complaints arose after the victims of the Parkland School shooting became targets for abuse on the Internet. YouTube also received many complaints about the conspiracy theory videos surrounding the Parkland school shooting.
PragerU, a conservative educational website, was among the many channels to see their material flagged or removed. In response, PragerU filed a lawsuit against YouTube and Google. PragerU claimed that the video-sharing platform used the moderation system to silence the “views of leading conservative speakers and scholars.” The lawsuit states, “This is speech discrimination plain and simple: censorship based entirely on the perceived identity and political viewpoint of the speaker not on the content of the speech.”
A petition demanding that YouTube cease blocking conservative channels and videos has since been launched.
While some YouTube accounts were deleted, others received warnings. InfoWars, a channel run by conspiracy theorist and American radio host Alex Jones, is one of the accounts that has received a warning.
Jones has expressed the belief that the survivors of the Parkland High School shooting are trained “crisis actors.” He believes these “crisis actors” were hired to be a part of the “false flag” attacks.
In the past few weeks, the InfoWars YouTube channel has received two other strikes for violating YouTube’s policy on bullying and harassment.
While YouTube hasn’t specified which videos and channels were blocked and deleted by mistake, some content has already been restored. For example, two videos removed from the Military Arms Channel are now back up.
An individual who is familiar with the operations of YouTube pushed back against the idea that the moderators were targeting conservative and right-wing content specifically. The individual claimed that it is fairly common to see mistakes like this across all types of content on YouTube.
YouTube is not the only social media website that has been accused of anti-conservative bias. Earlier in February, many conservative and right-wing users found that a Twitter “bot purge” had led them to suddenly lose hundreds and sometimes thousands of followers. Other users said that Twitter forced them to enter and verify a phone number to be able to log in. In response, these users created the hashtag #TwitterLockOut to accuse Twitter of being biased against conservatives.
Liberal users claimed that the lost followers were simply “Russian bots” and not real users. Twitter released a statement saying that it aims to keep the social media website spam-free and safe.
~ Liberty Planet