August 19, 2019

Falling Down YouTube's Alt-Right Rabbit Hole

“YouTube has been criticized often in recent weeks for hosting content created by radical actors, and has also been censured for how it has handled this criticism.

The video sharing giant’s policies on harassment and hate speech and its enforcement of these policies faced public scrutiny last week after Vox journalist and YouTube host Carlos Maza expressed his frustration with ongoing personal attacks he has faced from popular fellow YouTuber Steven Crowder.

After viewing the supercut of a few of Crowder’s comments, many — including Vox’s editor-in-chief Lauren Williams and its head of video Joe Posner — questioned why YouTube allowed Crowder’s videos to remain on its site, noting that the streaming service’s rules explicitly state videos that are “deliberately posted in order to humiliate someone” are not allowed. The platform’s community guidelines also state that users cannot make “hurtful and negative personal comments/videos about another person.”

YouTube officials responded to these questions with a series of decisions, as was explained in Recode Daily:

First, on Tuesday, the company said a series of videos in which the conservative media figure Steven Crowder calls Maza homophobic slurs didn’t violate its policies. Then, under public pressure, YouTube said on Wednesday it would temporarily demonetize Crowder’s channel. That didn’t resolve tensions either, as The Verge’s Elizabeth Lopatto writes: “YouTube’s policies have satisfied no one in this very public debacle.” By Wednesday night, the company published a blog post explaining its reasoning for keeping up the videos but promised to take a “hard look at our harassment policies with an aim to update them.””

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