Why Youtube's New Censorship Initiative Concerns Me

Why Youtube's New Censorship Initiative Concerns Me

I love Youtube. My engagement with the site has risen exponentially in the past few months. I have my own channel , watch videos often and use Youtube as my primary video hosting site. As a huge fan, I am deeply concerned with their recent blog post.

Are you a reader of the Youtube blog? I'm not. I wasn't until a friend pointed out this recent post about Youtube's new censorship initiative.

It has me concerned about the future of my (and any vocal Christian's) engagement with the world's second largest search engine. 

I say second largest but they are really the co-largest since Google bought Youtube back in 2006.

The headline and thesis of the blog suggest that Youtube is working hard to crack down on terrorism and other forms of hate speech on their platform. At first glance, that seems like a fantastic endeavour.

The problem that will be easy to flag is, "What do they mean by hate?"

Hate is always in the eye of the beholder.

What is Hate?

Hate is a word that means nothing to me anymore. Our civilization has been confused by this emotive word. We mistake disagreement for hate. "Hater" is the label you smear someone with when you don't have the capacity (or time, compassion or energy) to deal with a point of view that differs from yours.

So Google and Youtube want to reduce hate. The problem is that no one knows what the liberal, San Francisco based global empire considers "hate." They will gather in meetings and come up with a list. 

I bet my stuff will be in one of those categories.I don't think I post hateful things. But that's my personal opinion about my subject matter. Others may differ.

My suspicion is that this recent announcement goes much further than just terrorism. Here is why I think that.

3 Things that Concern Me about What I Read in the Post

1. The Legal and Yet "Flagged" Offensive Videos

Let's say someone uses their right to free speech and makes a video with a message that offends someone or some group. The video would get flagged, Youtube would takes notice, and then with a click the video would systematically get buried or removed. Then a warning would be sent to the creator - don't do that again or you will not be allowed to post anymore.

Let's not get upset by this. They can do that. They're the host. Content creators are the guests. The hosts get to set the boundaries.

This is how the official statement reads on this:

We’ll soon be applying tougher treatment to videos that aren’t illegal but have been flagged by users as potential violations of our policies on hate speech and violent extremism. If we find that these videos don’t violate our policies but contain controversial religious or supremacist content, they will be placed in a limited state.

That's about as clear as you get that this isn't just about terrorism. What does controversial religious content mean? Again, it is the opinion of the reader, the masses or the folks at Google. The videos are totally legal and yet offensive to some people and, therefore, will be cracked down on.

There goes free speech on Youtube and Google. This is censorship and it is concerning regarding my future use of the site. Not my choice, of course. It is theirs.

2. Using Algorithms to Make People and Posts Invisible

Let's say you want to search out a particular controversial topic. If it is one of those flagged sites or videos, you won't be able to find it anywhere. Google will ensure you are unfindable. This was the second concerning paragraph to me:

We’ve started rolling out features from Jigsaw’s Redirect Method to YouTube. When people search for sensitive keywords on YouTube, they will be redirected towards a playlist of curated YouTube videos that directly confront and debunk violent extremist messages.

Youtube is saying, "We are going to direct people to videos that we want them to see. They have every right to do this but if you are on their blacklist, you best find another host for your videos. If conservative Christians want to have their videos searchable online, they may have to find another host site. Youtube will likely make every effort to hide them.

That is, of course, unless you buy into everything they want you to believe in which case you are free to participate.

3. Partnering With Others Who Will Also Enforce What Google Wants You to Believe

If you are a creator of these legal, yet controversial posts, you won't just have Youtube/Google to work around. Facebook, Microsoft, YouTube and Twitter, four of the biggest online players (by far) are working together to crack down on terrorism and hate as well.

This is the partnership Youtube/Google was proud to announce their cooperation with:

With the help of new machine learning technology, deep partnerships, ongoing collaborations with other companies through the Global Internet Forum, and our vigilant community we are confident we can continue to make progress against this ever-changing threat.

If successful, will this forum be content with blocking terrorist sites? Likely not. They will transition to all forms of "hate speech" and anything that smells of hate. Christians and their message will be targeted. Sigh. They always are.

It comes with the territory of following a martyr who asks his followers to take up a cross as well. My prediction is it's just a matter of time before our videos will be labelled and made invisible if not removed altogether.

My Conclusion

Malcolm X knew of the power of the press. He knew about the power of communicating a message. He knew the dark side of the media as well. He knew how easy it is to sway a mind. He warned us,

The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses.

Right now, Google, Youtube, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook control the minds of the masses. The Internet, with its democratization of information, was supposed to prevent this.

I am confident that it still will. I just don't think it will happen through these huge giants. 

I'm not a conspiracy theorist. I roll my eyes when people talk about the Illuminati. This isn't about that at all.

This is about worldview. 

We observe that our society is polarizing. The dividing lines are based on our interpretations of reality. We enjoyed a window of time there where the Internet allowed a free exchange of worldview ideas.

It opened our eyes and minds to the good, the bad, the ugly and the really ugly. As the Internet grows up, the worldview divide shows itself and is now putting us into various ideological camps. 

What can you do? Don't be surprised to see conservative search engines, video hosts and other sites start to pop up. I guarantee you that there is someone coding them right now.

This saddens me. I was enjoying using Youtube so much.

This censorship initiative is not the end of the world. Only Jesus determines that.

When they come for me, I'll just go somewhere else.