This week it’s become clear that YouTube is in a rough way between aiming to stop hate speech and actually enforcing their own rules. The biggest case comes in the form of Carlos Maza, writer and producer of research and media coverage of LGBT issues. He’s been the target of intense harassment at the hands of ultra-right-wing hate channels on YouTube for the past two years. Upon notifying YouTube about his situation, YouTube suggested that no issue fell within the scope of their policies.
YouTube’s “tackle hate” article release
On June 5th, 2019, YouTube revealed a set of three updates to their platform made to “tackle hate.” In addition, they reminded the public that in order to protect the YouTube community from harmful content, they had four pillars of work to do. removing violative content, reducing the spread of borderline content, raising up authoritative content, and rewarding trusted creators.
Borderline content is content that does not clearly violate YouTube’s policies, but edges up close to violations all the same. As YouTube put it: “In addition to removing videos that violate our policies, we also want to reduce the spread of content that comes right up to the line.”
If someone were to read Google’s curiously well-timed release about YouTube’s aim to “tackle hate” they might say, good, YouTube is doing things right! But take note of what’s been happening this week with YouTube in response to the harassment of LGBTQ YouTube creators, and the timing of the YouTube “tackle hate” post seems too good to be true.
LGBTQ hate speech on YouTube
Below you’ll find a key post by Maza, in which we’s compiled clips from the YouTube channel made by Steven Crowder. In these clips it would certainly appear that Crowder does more than what YouTube suggests “comes right up to the line.”
Yesterday YouTube suggested that videos by Crowder did not constitute action on behalf of their policies. They suggested that Crowder was “focused primarily on debating,” so did not violate said policies.
Fast forward to earlier today June 5th, and not a lot’s changed. In fact, harassment of Maza’s gotten worse. This afternoon, the YouTube official “tackle hate” article was released.
But wait, you might be saying, isn’t this a good thing? It could be that YouTube’s update to guidelines in its “tackle hate” article mean the issue described above will be handled differently? Not really.
Wrap up (for now)
It’s been claimed that YouTube’s “tackle hate” update to policies will result in the removal of massive amounts of hate-related channels in the imminent future. Cross your fingers its true, but until I see it, I won’t believe it.
Tackling channels like Crowder’s is seen by his supporters as an attack on free speech. In reality, channels like Crowder’s do not protect free speech, they exploit it. Creators like Crowder shouldn’t be stopped – they do indeed have the right to free speech (however you’d like to interpret that) so long as they do not specifically aim to harm any person or group of people* – but they shouldn’t be allowed to cash in.
*This isn’t actually the case with Crowder, as you’ll see in several examples above. Once a person crosses the line into targeted hate speech and harassment, the free speech right is violated. I cannot yell FIRE in a crowded theater without consequences just because I think it’s covered by my right to free speech.
YouTube continues to allow their own rules to be broken by allowing hate speech and harassment to go unpunished. YouTube has the right to enforce its own rules, and should not send advertising dollars to content creators who break said rules, full stop.