Published on Mar 5, 2018
Published on Mar 5, 2018
By Mark Bergen
The Google division said in December it would assign more than 10,000 people to moderate content after a year of scandals over fake and inappropriate content on the world’s largest video site.
In the wake of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, some YouTube moderators mistakenly removed several videos and some channels from right-wing, pro-gun video producers and outlets.
Some YouTube channels recently complained about their accounts being pulled entirely. On Wednesday, the Outline highlighted accounts, including Titus Frost, that were banned from the video site. Frost tweeted on Wednesday that a survivor of the shooting, David Hogg, is an actor. Jerome Corsi of right-wing conspiracy website Infowars said on Tuesday that YouTube had taken down one of his videos and disabled his live stream.
Shutting entire channels would have marked a sweeping policy change for YouTube, which typically only removes channels in extreme circumstances and focuses most disciplinary action on specific videos. But YouTube said some content was taken down by mistake. The site didn’t address specific cases and it’s unclear if it meant to take action on the accounts of Frost and Corsi.
“As we work to hire rapidly and ramp up our policy enforcement teams throughout 2018, newer members may misapply some of our policies resulting in mistaken removals,” a YouTube spokeswoman wrote in an email. “We’re continuing to enforce our existing policies regarding harmful and dangerous content, they have not changed. We’ll reinstate any videos that were removed in error.”
The misstep pulls YouTube, Google and parent Alphabet Inc. deeper into a toxic political fights over gun control, fake and extreme content, and whether internet companies should be responsible for what third parties post on their services. The episode also shows how the huge video site continues to struggle with policing the service and how difficult it is to spot troubling content and decide whether the material should be taken down.
Gun reform calls since the shooting have sparked a rash of conspiracy theories on the web about the student activists. YouTube was criticized last week after promoting a video with a title that suggested Hogg, the teen survivor of the Florida school shooting, was a paid actor. The clip contained footage from an authoritative news source, leading YouTube’s software-based screening system to misclassify it. After YouTube was alerted to the video, it was pulled.
In the wake of the Florida shooting, Google and other internet companies are facing external pressure to remove the National Rifle Association’s NRA TV channel from their video streaming services. To date, YouTube and other services haven’t pulled the NRA’s official channel.
YouTube’s official policy says that “harmful or dangerous” and “hateful” content can violate its guidelines. If video creators break the rules three times within three months, YouTube terminates the account.
Alex Jones, who runs Infowars and has pushed conspiracy theories about school shootings, is the most outspoken self-proclaimed victim of YouTube. He said this week that YouTube told him his account faces two strikes. On Tuesday, an Infowars article stated that Google was “purging conservative media,” claiming that “CNN and other news outlets” were lobbying Google to terminate the Infowars channel.
Infowars.com – DECEMBER 1, 2017
The site will not allow us to embed a playable version onto this page.
To watch the video click “Watch on Facebook” below and then click “Uncover Video” once on Facebook.
As you can see in the screenshots below, when we click the options button on our video “This is MAGA” we have the option to embed and when we click the options button on the video “Flashback: Trump Warned France of Terrorist Attack,” the embed button does not appear.
Today, in an extremely similar scenario, Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson had a viral video censored by YouTube.
Watson writes, “YouTube has censored a video critical of radical Islam in yet another example of how big websites are silencing more moderate voices and allowing extremists to fill the void. The video, entitled The Truth About Trump & Britain First, had received over 150,000 views before it was hidden behind an interstitial that reads, ‘The following content has been identified by the YouTube community as inappropriate or offensive to some audiences.’ Users have to be signed in to watch the video, while comments, likes, and views have all been removed. This is a form of “limited state” soft censorship that prevents a video from being shared or going viral.”
Owen Shroyer | Infowars.com – NOVEMBER 30, 2017
Paul Joseph Watson | Infowars.com – NOVEMBER 27, 2017
Oh, the irony.
A user who attempted to link through to Infowars from a YouTube video on their phone sent us the following screenshot.
“Be careful! This site may be harmful,” states the warning.
“The site you are trying to visit (www.infowars.com) may include malware, phising attempts, or disturbing content.”
The website then offers a “back to safety” option to prevent the user from accessing Infowars.
It’s pretty rich for YouTube to be setting itself up as the moral authority on “harmful” and “disturbing” content given that actual pedophiles have been abusing the platform to fulfil their depraved fantasies for months or even years with YouTube only just announcing it would take action.
Indeed, while the Google-owned platform has been censoring and de-monetizing “offensive” political content for the last six months, pedophiles were completely left alone.
As the Daily Mail reports, “Searching for the phrase ‘how to have’ on YouTube brings up a list of disturbing auto-complete results,” including “how to have s*x with your kids” and “how to have s*x kids.”
Big companies are also pulling advertising from YouTube after it was revealed that up to 100,000 predatory accounts have been leaving indecent comments on videos showing children for at least a year.
Maybe YouTube should concentrate on cleaning its own house before declaring completely legitimate political content to be “harmful” or “disturbing”.
NOVEMBER 14, 2017
Franken appeared to be an over-reaction to testimony given by legal counsel for Google, Facebook, and Twitter, to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 31, in which each of the Internet social media content giants reported statistics that showed minimal Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Yet, in the face of this concrete evidence, Franken seems determined to continue beating the New McCarthyism narrative advanced by Hillary Clinton and her Democratic Party supporters to explain away her devastating 2016 loss to Donald Trump.
Franken argued Hillary’s loss demanded government censorship over social media on the Internet. He wrote the following:
Last week’s hearings demonstrated that these companies may not be up to the challenge that they’ve created for themselves. In some instances, it seems that they’ve failed to take commonsense precautions to prevent the spread of propaganda, misinformation, and hate speech.
In advancing his argument for government censorship, Franken asked the following rhetorical questions:
The platforms that big tech has designed may now be so large and unruly that we can’t trust the companies to get it right when they do start paying attention. If you have five million advertisers a month using your highly sophisticated, nearly instantaneous ad platform, can you ever really know who all of them are? Can you ever catch all the signals that would seem obvious to a pair of human eyes – for example, political ads that are paid for in rubles?
“Very ominous words”
Franken got immediate push-back from Michael Snyder, a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, who penned a rebuttal in EndOfTheAmericanDream.com.
“These are very ominous words,” Snyder insisted. “So precisely what would constitute ‘propaganda,’ ‘misinformation’ or ‘hate speech’?”
Snyder pushed back, suggesting Franken’s motive really involved a plan by hard-left Democrats to censor the speech of conservatives and libertarians on the Internet, so as to create a wide-open social media field in which even two-time losers like Hillary Clinton might win the presidency in 2020.
Snyder argued that government censorship constituted a serious risk to First Amendment free speech rights. He wrote:
When you start regulating speech, you cross a very dangerous line. There is a reason why our founders guaranteed us freedom of speech in the Bill of Rights, because if we don’t have the freedom to say what we want then what do we really have left?
He argued the “government truth police” would lead us down the road to totalitarianism, a conclusion he judged is precisely what Franken wants. Snyder continued:
During the presidential election, there was a lot of talk about Hillary Clinton’s health. The mainstream media insisted that she was just fine, and they accused those of us in the alternative media that were questioning her health of engaging in “propaganda” and “misinformation”. Well, it turns out that we now know that Clinton’s health was so bad that Donna Brazile was actually consideringreplacing the nominee, and so it was actually the mainstream media that was putting out “propaganda” and “misinformation.”
Snyder argued that elite leftists like Franken are actually scared of the free exchange of ideas because that gives people far too much control over their own destiny.
“Will everything that we do on the Internet have to be evaluated for ‘truthiness’ before it is allowed to be posted?” Snyder asked. “And who decides what the ‘truth’ actually is?”
Snyder concluded by asserting that he is a big believer in the marketplace of ideas.
“I have always been convinced that if everyone is allowed to openly share what they believe that the truth will win in the end,” he insisted.
What does the evidence show?
Perhaps Sen. Franken should review the evidence Facebook, Twitter, and Google presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee, as previously reported by Infowars.com.
In their prepared testimony, each of the three social media companies attempted to estimate the extent of Russian interference during the 2016 U.S. presidential election cycle.
Facebook reported that the disinformation campaign associated with the Internet Research Agency, IRA, a Russian company located in St. Petersburg, spent approximately $100,000 on more than 3,000 Facebook and Instragram ads between June 2015 and August 2017.
Facebook’s analysis also showed that the IRA accounts used ads to promote roughly 120 Facebook Pages they had set up, which in turn posted more than 80,000 pieces of content between January 2015 and August 2017.
Facebook estimated 11.4 million people in the United State saw at least one of these ads between 2015 and 2017.
Twitter identified 36,746 accounts that generated automated, election-related content and had at least one of the characteristics we used to associate an account with Russia.
During the relevant period, those accounts generated approximately 1.4 million automated, election-related Tweets, which collectively received approximately 288 million impressions.
Twitter placed those numbers in context as follows:
Twitter estimated that fewer than 5 percent of all 360 million accounts active during the election period was identified with a foreign nation-state actor.
Google attempted to distinguish itself from the other two websites, arguing that its search engine does not lead to the same viral content activity that distinguishes Facebook and Twitter.
Google reported finding only two accounts during the election cycle that appeared to be engaged in an activity associated with known or suspected government-backed entities. These two accounts spent approximately $4,700 in connection with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Google also reported finding 18 channels on YouTube with approximately 1,100 videos that were uploaded by individuals who we suspect are associated with this effort and that contained political content.
These videos mostly had low view counts, with just 3 percent having more than 5,000 views, constituting only forty-three hours of YouTube content. While this is a relatively small amount of content in that people watch over a billion hours of YouTube congtent a day, with 400 hours of content are uploaded every minute.
NOVEMBER 2, 2017
But wait, there’s other mainstream outlets also claiming the NY Times ad never happened:
This is a case study in media manipulation, particularly how establishment journalists think you’re gullible and stupid.
Don’t trust the mainstream media. You’ll find the truth if you free your mind, trust yourself and actively look for the answers.