As YouTube garners heat for failing to take action on purported hate speech, the company is trying to shift the narrative all while reminding the public that after 14 years it’s still writing the rough drafts of some of its core rules of engagement.
The company announced in a blog post today, that it was expanding the scope of how it would tackle hate speech, now banning language “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.”
This blanket ban will also sweep videos related to promoting Nazi ideology as well as content that denies that “well-documented violent events” like the Holocaust or Sandy Hook massacre occurred.
YouTube’s announcement follows a high-visibility show of its inaction after declaring that repeated incidents of being harassment against a Vox writer by right-wing YouTuber Stever Crowder did not violate its policies.
Since I started working at Vox, Steven Crowder has been making video after video “debunking” Strikethrough. Every single video has included repeated, overt attacks on my sexual orientation and ethnicity. Here’s a sample: pic.twitter.com/UReCcQ2Elj
— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) May 31, 2019
The saga was frustrating, largely because it seemed apparent how YouTube was going to respond long before they did.
As the public looks to YouTube for action tackling hate speech that the company finds bogged in nuance, announcements like this just serve to showcase how unsophisticated the platform’s community guidelines remain. If self-professed Nazis sharing Nazi views has been borderline up to now, how long will it be before the company sees repeated harassment as a cardinal sin?
As the platformized web enters a new age of content moderation, YouTube has proven itself among the most reluctant of powerful actors to make judgment calls.
YouTube is more of a self-contained web than any other platform, almost everything is public and searchable. The scale of the video content uploaded to its servers from public accounts on a daily basis is mind-boggling and presents moderation issues that exist at far greater scales than even Facebook has had to deal with. Luckily, Google remains the global superpower when it comes to AI classification, and yet it seems the company’s largest hinderance to policing is its inability to move deftly in real-time when policy matters arise.