Freedom Is Pricey: YouTube Chooses Revenue Over Human Rights

Freedom Is Pricey: YouTube Chooses Revenue Over Human Rights

Free speech is something worth fighting for. It’s the cornerstone of a free society. You know, the one we’re supposed to be living in.

Free speech is necessary for accomplishing just about every goal in a free, democratic, capitalistic country. You want to start your own business? Free speech allows you to reach customers and clients, form a vision for your company, spread the word, and grow a brand.

Want to become an artist or writer? Obviously free speech will let you express your personal ideas, without fear that a government censor—for any reason—will try to silence you.

Political movements are built on free speech. Fair and open elections cannot happen without free speech. Other freedoms, like a free press and freedom of religion, are dependent on the virtue that in America, we are free to say what we wish.

Even important moments of reform were contingent on citizens being able to express what they believed, without interference from the government. The abolition movement, suffrage, and Civil Rights would not have happened if supporters did not have the right to speak out against established injustices.

Yet throughout our history, free speech has always been a challenge. Aside from legal battles and outright attempts by power-hunger individuals to limit our speech, there have been technological limits for everyday people.

If you wanted to spread your ideas a hundred years ago or more, you had to print them up somehow. Maybe you could get a job at a magazine or newspaper. Or maybe someone would print your letter in their publication. Maybe you could afford getting pamphlets printed up and go door to door in your neighborhood.

The point is there were limits to how far you could get, limits based on your resources and locality.

Then there were the all-powerful gatekeepers, companies that controlled the means of communication.

Up until recently, your free speech only mattered to the people you interacted with on a personal level. Big corporations and government entities weren’t worried about what you had to say, because few people would hear it. Only a precious few (compared to the entire population) actually had access to newspapers, books, movies, and television. And those outlets were controlled by powerful interests.

So effectively, while we had free speech, much of what was being said on a wide scale was controlled by a handful of executives and politicians.

Not today. Thankfully, because of the Internet, every last one of us has amazingly powerful outlets to express ourselves. And nobody knows who is going to become the next big influencer. Countless blogs, companies, and social accounts promise surefire steps in making your content go viral. But the fact is nobody has a monopoly anymore on what you can see, hear, read, and say.

As you can imagine, this has created an unprecedent era of disruption. The old gatekeepers no longer have any power. The gates have changed. Or better put, there are so many new gates, they can’t control them all.

This has led to old media outlets losing the influence they once had. More people are reading news online, than through TV or newspapers. Artists can get their music out without the Draconian demands of a record label. Indie filmmakers can crowdfund their ideas and distribute their work, completely circumventing the toxic Hollywood system.

Each day new innovations are bringing more power to us, the lowly masses. And the powers at be are terrified.

It’s particularly troubling to them that younger generations have taken to the Internet so much. People below the age of thirty have never touched a newspaper (I’m 33 and I can count on one hand how many times I’ve read a paper). They don’t care about what’s on CNN. And they’re more likely to spend a day watching YouTube than watching NBC.

I have nieces and nephews who want to grow up to become YouTube stars. Not TV stars, movie stars, or talk show hosts, but YouTube stars.

This incredible new power will only grow as time goes on. Unless, of course, something is done.

While the New York Times is most certainly dead, along with Virgin Records, and CNN, new gatekeepers are realizing how much power they can wield.

Those companies that are providing the platforms for new media and free speech are discovering that they too, have interests they want to protect. The masses who use their websites and services just might not behave the way they want them to, so they will abuse the influence and good will they’ve established to rein in all this free thought and expression.

We’ve saw this throughout the 2016 election. Twitter was frequently criticized for censoring and outright banning conservatives, some over made up charges of abuse. Meanwhile Black Lives Matter activists celebrated the death of cops, while ISIS spreads its propaganda, and Twitter did nothing.

Facebook was called out, and continues to be called out, for banning conservative and free speech accounts. They have admitted to censoring conservative news on their feeds. Yet they are slow to shut down radical Islamic pages that support terrorism.

But all the manipulative and shady practices of these social giants pale in comparison to YouTube. Arguably, YouTube is the most influential, most disruptive social network of them all. YouTube directly threatens cable news, network TV, movies, even publications. Young people are more likely to hear about current events through their favorite YouTube channels, rather than established outlets.

This means that all the work the mainstream media puts into controlling the way you think is all for nothing. CNN works overtime to distort the presidency, lie about radical Islamic terrorism, and promote far left-wing causes.

But millions of people would rather watch PewDiePie.

Worse than that, people are getting their news from intelligent, effective conservative channels like PragerU, Paul Joseph Watson, and Louder With Crowder. Milo Yiannopoulos may have lost his Twitter account, but he is going strong on YouTube and other sites.

This threatens old media, of course. But they’re already dead. Nothing is going to return us to the days of the 80’s and 90’s, the last era where television ruled what we saw and heard. The cats out of the bag, Pandora has opened the box.

But, the decaying ruins of old media can still find ways of clamping down on your speech. With their ever-shrinking bags of cash, they can manipulate the content on YouTube. YouTube works because of ad revenue. Google’s entire business model is built around free content and services, supported by ads. But if the people buying the ads aren’t happy with the content, then they can indirectly control what is being put out there.

Because if a YouTuber that thrives on ad dollars from his videos loses ads, then he’ll have to alter his content to appease his overlords.

But don’t worry, they’re not going to censor free speech. They are just going to address “extremist” content. Oh good, I was worried for a minute there.

It’s not been long since Google found itself on the receiving end of advertisers’ backlash for extremist content on YouTube. Ever since, the tech giant has been working on improving moderation and filters on YouTube, to remove offensive content.

In the latest development, Google has vowed to use AI (Artificial Intelligence) and human moderators to identify and delete extremist videos from YouTube. To recall, the controversy involving YouTube and the advertisers sparked when various advertisers pulled their ads from YouTube after they appeared on extremist videos. Not just major brands, even the Australian government pulled its ads. (WCCFTECH)

If you do not see an obvious ploy at controling all content on YouTube, it’s time you woke up. “Extremist” content is just code for, “whatever we don’t like.” The moment you put constraints on speech, free speech is dead.

Because, after all, who determines what is extreme? Is calling for the death of an entire group extreme? Sure. Then why aren’t BLM’s calls for dead cops banned?

How about criticizing a powerful political movement? Well… I dunno. What if that political movement is contrary to the leanings of YouTube’s executives? Ban them!

Free speech only works when we allow all forms of speech, even the ones we don’t like. The Internet has given us a platform like never before. Yet social networks like Facebook, Tumblr, and YouTube have fine print that sets limits on what we are allowed say on their websites.

They have “Community Guidelines” and rules that put boundaries on acceptable speech. Every last social network and service has these, (including Reddit, Imgur, Twitter, and so). While most are supposed to protect against threats and bullying (and lawsuits), YouTube and others are surprisingly selective about which channels are branded offensive, extreme, or inappropriate.

But any limits of speech are inappropriate. Even speech that offends you should be allowed, because if we start banning it, where do we stop?

Recently the Supreme Court unanimously defended free speech, with an 8-0 vote. The case? A dispute over a rock band filing a trademark on the name “The Slants.” Some politically correct idiot in the trademark office considered it offensive and refused to allow it.

The Justices determined that offensive speech was protected just as much as inoffensive speech.

As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote:

A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society. (Daily Wire)

He’s saying that it’s not the government’s job to weigh in on what you say. It’s up to the public to debate and discuss ideas. If we disagree with someone, we can use the same free speech rights to argue their points. To censor them, through an overarching authority, is a violation of our rights.

Yet YouTube, a potential bastion of free speech, doesn’t get this idea. They feel it’s their job to decide what is good speech and what is “hate” speech. Unsurprisingly, “hate” speech is anything coming from conservatives’ point of view. As popular conservative Michelle Malkin found out:

My two-minute clip, which I titled "First, They Came," spotlighted authors, editors, politicians, and other targets of Islamic intolerance and violence…

YouTube yanked the innocuous, harmless, nonviolent, nonprofane, nonhateful, and nonthreatening mini-film. The company informed me that the video contained "inappropriate content…"

Now, contrast Google/YouTube's ridiculous stifling of "First, They Came" with its hands-off treatment of murder-inciting videos of hate imams Ahmad Musa Jibril and Abu Haleema.

Their rancid rants encouraging jihad by the sword and murder of non-Muslims have racked up millions of views over the past five years. Millions. Counterterrorism officials in multiple countries have tied their social media poison to jihad plots. The company told Conservative Review's Jordan Schachtel that it had reviewed the hate imams' channels and "found that they do not violate YouTube's guidelines on extremist or hateful content." (Town Hall)

If you feel like you’re taking crazy pills, once again, I’m right there with you. The political correctness that has poisoned the left has afflicted YouTube’s staff, who are too afraid of confronting actual content from terrorists, because that might be mean to Muslims.

Right now you can find many videos of jihadists beheading innocent victims of YouTube. They rarely take those down, until wide attention is given. Yet when influential conservatives call out the danger of radical, Islamic terrorism, they are either banned, put in restrictive mode, or have their videos de-monetized.

Yet left-wing groups that call for violence against conservatives? YouTube is apparently fine with them.

Just take the case of Louder With Crowder versus The Young Turks.

They’ve finally done it. As they’ve done with PragerU… YouTube has now set my youtube channel in “Restricted” mode… “Restricted” mode means our videos cannot be played in most (nearly all) libraries, schools, often colleges and it includes accounts for people younger than 18. The leftist target demographic for mind-molding…

I guess it would make sense if my channel were a strong “R”. But since “Louder With Crowder” is syndicated, we even follow FCC guidelines. The content isn’t even a PG-13! Guess what, though? The Young Turks Channel, which is filled with profanity and “hate”? They’re not restricted. (LWC)

The Young Turks, a channel with over 3.5M subscribers, is known for their radical, liberal views. They use profanity frequently in their videos and have even condoned violence against Trump supporters. They seem to get a pass from YouTube.

Yet Stephen Crowder’s channel, with its 800,000 subscribers, has been frequently hit with restricted punishments and video take downs. His channel, as he described, does not use profanity nor does it incite violence against anyone.

But he is a Second Amendment supporter who confronts things like Islamic terror and the hypocrisy on college campuses.

Of course, Google would attack him and his company.

But before you think that YouTube is simply attacking known conservatives, think again! Even people who are decidedly in the “alternative” lifestyles camp face censorship from YouTube. Why? Because being transgender violates their terms? Of course not. Because they called out hypocrisy from liberals.

As Tracy Loxley wrote:

One of my favorite YouTubers is a genderqueer hedonist who calls himself ContraPoints, and his videos on heavy topics strike a magical balance between entertainment and information… A few weeks ago, I was surprised to discover that YouTube had removed his video entitled “Does the Left Hate Free Speech? (Part 1).” There was nothing wrong with it. Nothing obscene, no depictions or encouragement of violence. The video, later uploaded to Vidme, is an analysis of the ideals, and occasional hypocrisies, of Dave Rubin and Christopher Hitchens, among others.

What’s especially surprising is that the video was flagged as “violating YouTube’s policy on spam, deceptive practices, and scams.” (Splice Today)

But wait. I thought YouTube was only going after extremist content? This genderqueer might be “extreme” in his lifestyle choices, but his video was simply discussing hypocrisies on the left. Hardly a call to violence and hate.

Ironic, right? This video was calling out the deceptive practices of liberals, only to be flagged as deceptive. The left follow Saul Alinsky’s tactic of accusing their rivals of the very thing they’re guilty of (something he learned from Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda dog).

Even a genderqueer YouTuber can face the website’s fiery lash, for not falling in step with the left’s marching orders.

You might say that was merely a glitch in their algorithms, but grow up. YouTube has its own interests at stake. It is run by liberals who are trying to preserve a failing political party. Add to that the many left-leaning companies that pay the bills, you have recipe for disaster.

Now more than ever we need to fight for our rights as Americans (and the rights of all my foreign friends). Every generation must defend their liberties or they will be stripped away from us. That’s largely why I do what I do and write as strongly as I write; we cannot acquiesce an inch of ground.

We are at the precipice of an incredibly exciting, new era. We don’t even know what the Internet will ultimately become. The potential for good is boundless. But the potential to be dragged into the dark ages of corrupt gatekeepers and mind-controlling Big Brothers is worse than it ever has been.

Every last one of us must use these freedoms in our own special way. We must make it clear to YouTube, Facebook, and every last social network that we are not going to give up our rights.

If we don’t, we’ve already lost.