We definitely have seen some interesting development this year especially after Mark Zuckerberg facing Congress and talking about Facebook.
One of the most important things out of Zuckerberg’s meeting with the Justice was the fact that Zuckerberg said Facebook is responsible for the content. That means that social media platforms are claiming responsibility in a sense for the content that’s on their platform. Now YouTube feels like they have that responsibility, especially with all the media pressure. As pointed out an article by Stilgherrian said:
The mere size of YouTube makes it virtually impossible to capture every hateful video or abusive content
YouTube must rely on algorithms to delete these videos, otherwise it would just be impossible. However, that’s not always good. For instance, a YouTube channel called Mumkey Jones, a channel that made a lot of videos about making fun of Elliot Rodger (he’s a guy that shot and killed six people) is completely gone. Another example is NickTheSmoker, who does smoking reviews, which was then reinstated after Leon Lush addressed it on Twitter. There’s probably more channels that got affected, but not everyone has a voice.
Going back to Mumkey Jones, you can tell he had been uploading these videos for a while and then, all the sudden, the algorithm hit him. He’s lost everything. The problem is that no one knows the rules, if you upload a video and it has no problem and a lot of views, then you imagine that it’s safe to upload a video with a similar style. Then, when YouTube realized their core message, they could have just deleted the videos or age-restricted them or but they removed the channel. Luckily, Mumkey got a lot of support on Patreon through this, which is great.
However, now there’s even problem with Patreon. For example Sam Harris, a podcaster, tweeted out a few days ago:
As many of you know, the crowdfunding site Patreon has banned several prominent content creators from its platform while the company insists that each was in violation of its Terms of Service. These recent explosions seem more readily explained by a political bias. Although I don’t share the politics of the band members, I considered no longer tenable to expose any part of my podcast funding to the whims of Patreon’s “Trust and Safety Committee”.
I find this very disappointing, because Patreon was supposed to be this alternative way for creators to earn revenue without getting censored. Advertisement might not like what you’re doing that’s understandable in a sense, but now even crowd funded missions could get censored.
Basically, one of the bans was Sargon of Akkad. He has defended me from the Wall Street Journal’s scrutiny and his Patreon was banned because he called Nazis the n-word. This was something that he did outside of his channel and the Patreon CEO and founder has expressed that you shouldn’t have to worry about losing your revenue on Patreon:
Creators, you just don’t have to worry about this (…) Kills me a little bit that there’s this fear.
That fear wasn’t unmerited. Although, to be fair, Sam Harris had his own system already set up and he’s just going to make more money because Patreon won’t take their part.
The point is there’s this section of the Content Policy that specifically mandates the things that you can do and can’t do on Patreon, the platform itself, not on Twitter.
According to the CEO, they monitor what’s on the Patreon website and not what you are saying on other platforms. However, with the Sargon of Akkad incident, it seems that they also monitor the entire online presence of the creator.
These websites are trying to decide what is right to say and most of the times that isn’t aligned with what the actual users think. You cannot fault you YouTube for wanting to remove videos on their website and needing to delete content, but the way they go doing it is the problem. These are people’s livelihood at stake and it’s especially disappointing with Patreon, because they’ve always seemed to be the face of alternative funding.
You see all these alternative websites coming up: alternative freedom of speech browsers, freedom of speech versions of Twitter, freedom of speech versions of YouTube, etc. but they never seem to call it on. These companies are already so big that it doesn’t really matter, which makes it even more scary.