November 17, 2018

Vimeo: Champion of Free Speech

There is a giant hiding behind YouTube. It’s a company called Vimeo that is a video sharing site focusing on quality and personalization. As I evolved into somewhat of “YouTube” sensation for videos combining pro-Israel messages and pop music, Google’s YouTube was always my default sharing site. It seems to get the most traffic, and it’s the most familiar brand.

But I took to Vimeo when YouTube, responding to complaints, kept taking down my satiric video, “Kill All the Jews,” sung by a fake band I created called “Gaza Girls.” Through YouTube’s  “form response,” I described how the video was a satire exposing the anti-Semitism underlying the #FreePalestine movement. It was kept off for no stated reason, so I re-uploaded it to YouTube with a more strident disclaimer, and it was still taken down – despite declarations that YouTube is committed to free speech given its agreement to screen the film, “The Interview.” (Meanwhile, Facebook booted me off twice due to complaints about my Gaza Girls Facebook satire page, but that’s another story.)

As I have documented in Isreallycool, the initial flaggers were Palestinians and anti-Israel bullies who didn’t like how my video exposed the violent anti-Semitism behind the #FreePalestine movement. After all, the point of the video was to show the manipulative nature of their propaganda – they claim to be fighting an “Occupation” – but to them, the entire Zionist enterprise is an Occupation, and any Israeli (Jew) is a legitimate target.

Meanwhile, Vimeo also took my video down – three times! Each time I wrote to them, and each time I received a personal response from someone with – get this – a name! After our back and forth, and my clear disclaimer in the video description, they eventually came to see that I made this video as an educational tool. Subsequently, my account was whitelisted.

But I didn’t know to what extent Vimeo defended freedom of expression until I became privy to correspondence a Vimeo rep had with an Israeli Jew who complained about my video, thinking it was authentic. (Names deleted to protect privacy):

To Vimeo:

I am shocked beyond words that you could allow such a video on your website.

http://player.vimeo.com/video/106171741

I would appreciate your soonest response and your assurance that any such other illegal content on your website will be removed immediately.

Is it your policy to prosecute the uploaders/owners/producers of such material? If not you, then who is responsible?

From Vimeo

We appreciate you reaching out to us.

Our moderators have reviewed this video and determined that it does not violate our Community Guidelines (https://vimeo.com/help/guidelines).

Although on the surface it certainly raises some red flags, context is important and the intention here is satire. It is meant to parody many of the aspects that make it seem so offensive on first blush, and after discussions with the journalist who created the video, we are satisfied that the context here separates it. She is an Israeli journalist who created the video to critique and make fun of anti-semitic propaganda.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

To Vimeo:

Well you certainly can’t derive that conclusion from viewing it!!

I have now googled this and she has come out with a Chandelier satire if satire is really the right word. The end of that states the origin and purpose.

Would it be too much to ask that the video we are referring to also have an explanation at the end?

Many thanks for your prompt response.

From Vimeo:

That is a very valid criticism of both the intent and execution. I would encourage you to share this with the user directly with the creator of the video via their userpage: https://vimeo.com/user32177361 or through the contact links they include in the video description.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

I then wrote an e-mail of gratitude to Vimeo for its respect of freedom of speech and for defending the presence of my video on their site, to which the Vimeo rep responded:

From Vimeo:

Orit,

Frankly, I have had lots of practice answering questions and complaints about your video at this point! More often than not, people miss the satire entirely (which is the same mistake we made the first time we saw it). It’s a sad state of affairs when something so over the top could plausibly be a sincere example of what it is engaging with.

In any case, we definitely respect expression above all else and are happy to have your back!

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Vimeo has certainly earned my respect for its courage, integrity and above-and-beyond customer service. I encourage more people to opt for Vimeo from now on. In addition, it is much less intrusive than YouTube, which clobbers videos with ads. It is more user-friendly, concerned with quality communication rather than sheer numbers of views, relying on customer service to attract loyalty and profit rather than pandering to the masses. Go go Gaza Girls! And go go Vimeo!