YouTube releases new guidelines on ‘harassing, toxic’ speech and conservatives are alarmed
December 12, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The Google-owned video platform YouTube revealed an update to its harassment policy Wednesday that critics fear will be used as a pretext for further suppression of conservative speech.
YouTube vice president and global Trust & Safety chief Matt Halprin justified the updated policy on the need for a stronger stand against “harassment,” which “hurts our community by making people less inclined to share their opinions and engage with each other.” The platform will crack down on “demeaning language that goes too far,” including “content that maliciously insults someone based on protected attributes such as their race, gender expression, or sexual orientation.”
The policy will also cover “harassment” in the form of a “pattern of repeated behavior across multiple videos or comments, even if any individual video doesn’t cross our policy line,” Halprin continued. Violators could see their channels demonetized or terminated entirely. In addition, YouTube will be cracking down on “toxic” contributions to video comment sections.
Halprin claimed that the policies were crafted with input from “free speech proponents and policy organizations from all sides of the political spectrum,” and promised a process for appealing YouTube’s rulings in these matters. “It’s vitally important that YouTube remain a place where people can express a broad range of ideas, and we'll continue to protect discussion on matters of public interest and artistic expression,” he insisted.
YouTube’s overhaul of its harassment policies began in June after complaints by left-wing Vox personality Carlos Maza led to the demonetization of conservative pundit Steven Crowder’s YouTube channel. The company admitted at the time that the flagged Crowder videos did not “individually” contain any monetization, but his “ongoing pattern of egregious behavior” had done “widespread harm to the YouTube community.”
Daily Wire editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro panned the new rules as “insanely vague,” and posited several scenarios in which they could be used to punish non-bigoted speech on hot-button issues:
The guidelines state that they are "specifically prohibiting videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status."— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) December 11, 2019
So, for example, let's say you do a video on why female athletes are generally paid less than male athletes, and you point out physical discrepancies between males and females, resulting in disparate performance between males and females athletically.— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) December 11, 2019
Or what if you point out that globally, more Muslims than Christians, by polling data, believe extreme things? Is that content that would be downgraded or banned?— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) December 11, 2019
They've now created a set of constantly-moving goalposts, and assured us that we ought to trust them. But it's lack of trust in their judgment and understanding that has already created their public perception problems. These new guidelines will exacerbate that problem.— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) December 11, 2019
Crowder predicted the new guidelines would mark the beginning of a “YouTube Purge” of conservatives that would make it drastically harder for right-wing personalities to thrive on the platform. He also highlighted the double standard of YouTube neglecting to apply any such scrutiny to the channels of left-wing television personalities while threatening content creators whose work has been highly profitable for the platform:
The YouTube Purge is coming and it's worse than you were led to believe. An update: https://t.co/TGDWdBRwS4— Steven Crowder (@scrowder) December 10, 2019
Even so, Vox’s Maza (who had originally demanded that Crowder be banned entirely) tweeted his anger that YouTube’s new policies don’t go even further, particularly that YouTube does not embrace and act on his subjective characterization of conservative arguments as “hateful”:
My reaction to YouTube's policy announcement is extreme skepticism:— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) December 11, 2019
1. "Malicious insults" were already prohibited under YouTube's anti-hate and anti-harassment policies. YouTube rolls out policies like this to distract reporters from the real story: YouTube's non-enforcement.
3. "Malicious insults" are only a small part of the problem on YouTube. The bigger problem is hateful content -- stuff that targets entire groups. Ben Shapiro smearing Muslims as terrorists. Lauren Southern railing against "mass migration." This is hate speech with a smile.— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) December 11, 2019
TL;DR: YouTube loves to manage PR crises by rolling out vague content policies they don't actually enforce.— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) December 11, 2019
These policies only work if YouTube is willing to take down its most popular rule-breakers. And there's no reason, so far, to believe that it is.
Conservative tend to be wary of YouTube rule changes due to recurring cases of apparent left-wing discrimination by the video giant and its parent company Google. YouTube has deleted investigation footage from pro-life group Live Action, censored discussion of transgenderism and mental illness, restricted educational videos from conservative pundit Dennis Prager on false “mature content” pretenses, and more.