‘This will not go well’: YouTube cracks down on pundits & journalists after policy change
Minutes after announcing a new policy clamping down on “hateful” and “supremacist” videos, YouTube got to work banning, demonetizing, or otherwise hiding videos from conservatives, journalists, and even black metal musicians.
The Google subsidiary updated its “hateful content” policies on Wednesday, announcing the clampdown in a blog post. The company said that from now on it will be “specifically prohibiting videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion.” Other videos that don’t strictly violate the site’s rules - including those promoting phony science or conspiracy theories - will be subject to demonetization, and other measures to restrict their viewership.
Orwellian in theory? In practice, too. YouTube didn’t wait long before wielding the ban-hammer with glee.
Steven Crowder (L) and Carlos Maza (R) © Flickr / Gage Skidmore; Reuters / Dado Ruvic; YouTube / Vox
First on the chopping block were videos that outright violated the “supremacist” rule. Norwegian black metal musician and convicted murderer Varg Vikernes had his channel ‘Thulean Perspective’ banned, likely for its pan-European white separatist content.
YouTube appears to have taken its vow to pull “videos that promote or glorify Nazi ideology” seriously, removing everything from Vikernes’ neo-pagan vlogs to low-fi punk music from its platform.
Others targeted included vlogger ‘Sinatra Says,’ who rails against feminism and the social justice movement. For the crime of wrongthink, Sinatra had his channel demonetized. YouTube did not cite a single offensive video, but instead told the troublemaker that the move was necessary to “ensure our community is safe for creators, viewers and advertisers.”
Nationalist commentator James Allsup saw his channel’s advertising revenue cut off, with YouTube issuing the same ‘community safety’ justification, as did scores of other “borderline” commentators and creators, like ‘identitarian’ Austrian nationalist Martin Sellner and conservative pundit Steven Crowder.
The crackdown was more a carpet-bombing than a precision strike. Alongside the wrongthinkers and thought criminals, multiple journalists were punished for videos simply reporting on extremism.
Among them were Ford Fischer, whose work detailing confrontations between ‘Antifa’ activists and neo-Nazis has been featured in a documentary by PBS. Regardless of its neutrality or historical significance, YouTube demonetized his entire channel. Ditto for the Drunken Peasants, whose video mocking a Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist was deleted, despite the authors condemning his beliefs.
Conservative commentators Milo Yiannopoulos and Gavin McInnes, both well accustomed to social media bans, also had their videos deleted.
The crackdown appears to have had its genesis in a confrontation between Steven Crowder and Vox journalist Carlos Maza, aka “gaywonk.” Maza complained to YouTube last week that Crowder had called him “mister lispy queer from Vox,”“a crappy writer,” and “the gay Mexican guy.” YouTube found nothing wrong with Crowder’s videos, and said on Wednesday it would take no action.
However, the platform demonetized Crowder’s channel immediately after announcing the new rules later in the day. That did little to mollify Maza, who demanded a full ban, claiming YouTube still drives customers to Crowder’s merchandise store, which sells among other things, a t-shirt emblazoned with the text “Socialism Is For F*gs.”
YouTube stated it will only reinstate Crowder’s monetization once he removes links to the “offending” t-shirts from his channel.
With the dust far from settled, commentators and pundits from all over the political spectrum have turned out to decry Maza’s ‘please tread on me’ call for censorship.
“Carlos Maza just f*cked over an entire genre of YouTube, because one man said something mean to him,” tweeted Scottish comedian and free speech advocate Count Dankula. “This will not go well.”