YouTube's Initiative To Counter Hate And Extremism
YouTube is a vast platform with exposure to a wide range of videos like informative, creative, instructive, etc. But some of the features of YouTube like search, auto fill, recommendations have exposed the users to ‘extremist and hate videos.' There are lots of sensitive contents which gain thousands of audiences.
Due to severe external pressures, YouTube took the initiative to control and prevent such extremist videos on its platform. YouTube has recently planned to spend $5 million on the Creators for Change program to support the members in 'countering hate and promoting tolerance' (according to a report in The Guardian). It is a group of more than 100 YouTubers, launched in 2016. They will be using the platform to promote only important issues around the globe and positive thoughts and messages. They are assigned to work on 'impact projects' to spread awareness of racism, harassment, bullying, the brutality of authorities like police, xenophobia (antipathy to foreigners), etc.
This step is indicative of the efforts put forward by YouTube to ensure that the users and creators use the platform for good and purposeful intentions. It was 'disheartening' for some members of Creators for Change to see the controversial videos and contents getting more audience and views. They are also making a tremendous amount of money through these sensitive videos. YouTube Sam Saffold (with 25,200 subscribers) told Polygon September, “ There are so many positive You Tubers who don’t get the attention they deserve.”
YouTube is criticized for videos showing ‘hate speech and terrorist propaganda' and everyone pressurized to block those sensitive contents in their platform.
Instances of Extremist Videos
It is not just the hate speech which has heated up the discussions and have created so many problems for YouTube, there are other things as well. In December, a video by Logan Paul (with more than 16 million subscribers) was highly criticized. He was looked down upon for filming and uploading a suicide victim's body in Aokigahara Forest of Japan. He took it down and apologized for it, but the video had terrible impacts on the audiences, and YouTube kept all his projects on hold.
Several other sensitive contents show up on YouTube's platform.
The Anwaral-Awlaki controversy
The notorious Anwar al-Awlaki controversy has 70,100 results as if August 30, 2017. Due to the external pressures, Google in November 2017 responded and assured to lower down the presence of Awlaki on its platform . But it cannot be reduced to zero since the viral videos had hundreds of downloads and re-uploads.
Bomb-making video of ISIS
CEP discovered that there was an ISIS video with step-by-step instructions to develop a homemade 'anti-personal' bomb using readily available materials (as in November 2016).
Advertisers are concerned about their advertisements showing up alongside/on extremist videos. YouTube has decided to review the videos manually before placing them on its platform. According to Google,
“Ads will only run on videos that have been verified to meet our ad-friendly guidelines.”
YouTube has plans for the widespread use of AI technology that can automatically filter out ‘extremist, supremacist, inflammatory, hate' contents and reduces search results for trigger words.
Google has taken a very wise step in implementing actions against extremist and hate contents in You Tube's platform.
Kant Walker Says,
“These videos will have less engagement and be harder to find,”
Google's General Counsel.
“This strikes a perfect balance between free expression and access to information without promoting extremely offensive viewpoints”
she wrote plans in a June blog post. This step is very appreciable since, now, no one can claim that they are denied of free expression- a fundamental right. Although YouTube stepped back in ultimately taking down the videos containing 'extremist or supremacist content' but it prevents the uploaders to monetize such contents.
New restrictions that are put forward target the extreme videos and reduce their presence on the platform. They won’t be able to 'run ads' or have a 'comment’ section under their videos to drastically reduce the engagement of such videos. They won’t even appear in any ‘recommendation’ section of YouTube.
This initiative of YouTube is to spread only positive and inspiring thoughts in its platform is praise-worthy and also needs serious actions to be taken by the authorities to counter the hate and extremism that has clutched YouTube.