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Weekly Update - June 8, 2019: YouTube Policy, Stadia, Street View

This week you can explore the ocean or become a Stadia Founder; Apple announced software updates, new features and hardware; and there was much furor around changes in - and enforcement of -YouTube policy. Plus so. many. updates.

YouTube’s Policy Controversy

This week was marked by controversy around YouTube’s Community Guidelines and their enforcement. 

On Monday the New York Times published a damning article describing YouTube has having an “open gate for pedophiles”. YouTube responded with an article detailing their actions to “protect kids”, including shutting off comments on videos featuring kids, not allowing kids to live stream without an adult, and improving their algorithms that detect predatory behavior. Unlike other policy actions around video content, these changes have focused on protecting young creators from predatory viewers. 

Meanwhile, Vox reporter Carlos Maza called on YouTube to take action against Steven Crowder, an “edgy” right-wing pundit who has repeatedly used homophobic slurs and remarks about Maza’s ethnicity in his videos, while claiming it’s just “political comedy”. Crowder’s fans apparently take it upon themselves to directly harass Maza every time Crowder mentions him. On Tuesday, after an investigation, YouTube announced that while Crowder’s videos are “hurtful”, they do not violate their Community Guidelines because the offending language is not “the primary purpose” of the videos. The next day YouTube also decided that there was an “ongoing pattern of egregious behavior” that was harming the YouTube community, and so removed Crowder’s channel from the YouTube Partner Program.

Amidst the controversy around Crowder’s content, YouTube announced an update to their hate speech policies. The Community Guidelines now prohibit “supremacist” content including claims that one group is superior to justify discrimination, any promotion or glorification of Nazi ideology, claims that one of the protected attributes (including age, disability, ethnicity, race, immigration status, gender identity, sexual orientation, veteran status) makes one physically or mentally inferior, and content that denies a well-documented violent event took place (such as the Holocaust or Sandy Hook shootings). Videos with such content may be removed, and channels could be terminated or removed from the YouTube Partner Program.

Crowder and his fans, plus some conservative pundits and politicians, think that they have been unfairly targeted. They are calling the demonetization of videos affected by the new policies the #VoxAdpocalypse, blaming the updated hate speech policy on Vox and Carlos Maza (despite the only apparent connection is the timing).

Maza, Voxsome Googlers, and many others are upset at YouTube’s seeming lack of enforcement of their existing policies around hate speech and harassment, especially in the light of YouTube’s previous failings in supporting LBGTQ creators.

For its part, YouTube says they will be reviewing and updating their current harassment policies over the coming months, which is a good thing. But there is confusion around what educational, journalistic and historical content will be allowed under the new policies. YouTube still has a lot of work to do to improve consistency in policy enforcement.
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Read on for more updates and tips for business owners, webmasters, YouTubers and more.

Image: Underwater world by joakant from Pixabay

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Comments

  1. I still depend on your Weekly Updates, Peggy. Just wanted you to know how important your hard work and sharing is to those of us who follow you. :D Keep making us smarter and more informed.

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