YouTube’s new purge of extremist content has hit both left-wing commentators and non-political historical content, The Daily Caller has learned.
YouTube began a new wave of takedowns and demonetizations in early June. Aimed at combating “hate speech,” the new policy has mostly targeted conservative users. Without providing much justification, the video platform has censored and demonetized many accounts that supposedly violate its new policy.
The policy implemented on June 5 is an update of YouTube’s 2017 policy, 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,” according to its blog. “Finally, we will remove content denying that well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, took place.”
Channels that violate YouTube’s hate-speech policies are also in danger of being demonetized, having their video ads removed and money-making privileges revoked.
Stephen Crowder, a prominent conservative YouTube blogger, had his account demonetized after being accused of homophobic rhetoric by liberal Vox personality Carlos Maza. Crowder alleges that many of his videos were already demonetized before Maza’s accusations, citing his unfiltered political beliefs.
But the purge has also caught several other YouTube accounts who are neither extreme nor even political.
Scott Allsop is a Romanian history teacher, who found himself banned for posting videos with archival footage containing Nazi propaganda in videos about the history of the Second World War. “I’m a history teacher, not someone who promotes hatred,” Allsop complained. “I share archive footage and study materials to help students learn about the past.”
Allsop’s account was restored shortly after being reported on by Buzzfeed. Following the purge, Allsop felt frustrated that his educational videos were suppressed.
YouTube’s expansive purge has affected some lesser-known bloggers on their platform. These voices often go unheard or are passively dismissed by the tech company. One such user is Cirsten Weldon, a Singaporean-American interior designer and right-leaning blogger whose channel covers controversial issues in American and global politics. (RELATED: YouTube CEO Explains Why She Didn’t Ban Steven Crowder)
Weldon admits to having many of her videos banned or demonetized by YouTube and argues that her content was wrongfully considered extremist. “I am considered a Nazi, along with my good friend Laura Loomer whose Jewish, along with Candace Owens also,” Weldon states. “And she is Black.”
In addition to demonetization, Weldon reveals that YouTube has even locked her channel from obtaining any new subscribers. Those who try are blocked, the subscriber amount being frozen at 14,653.
Because of YouTube’s purge, Weldon has encouraged many of her followers and other lesser known bloggers to transfer over to BitChute, an alternative video hosting service. BitChute’s site allows users to avoid YouTube’s repressive content rules, encouraging many banned or demonetized users to migrate over to their platform.
Ford Fischer, a freelance video journalist who reports on political extremism in the United States via his YouTube page News2Share, has also been caught up in the latest YouTube purge. Two of Fischer’s videos were deleted by YouTube shortly before his account was demonetized earlier this month.
YouTube removed a video containing footage of a Holocaust denier which he recorded in the process of his video journalism. The other video included offensive comments by neo-Nazi Mike Enoch speaking before an assembly of white nationalists at the Lincoln Memorial. Fischer emphasizes that his video in no way endorsed the words of these extremists.
“What they obviously haven’t considered is the difference between hateful content and raw journalism content that exists for the purpose of news and analysis of people they’d consider hateful,” Fischer told The Daily Caller. “YouTube is deleting content that would help researchers and future historians understand the political moment we’re in.”
Fischer claims YouTube instantly demonetized half of his videos based on keywords in the title. YouTube went so far as to delete two of his videos that did not violate any company policies. Fischer’s entire channel, ranging from totally mainstream politics of videos of Nancy Pelosi speaking, to the extremes of documenting violence in Charlottesville protests, was eventually demonetized.
“I don’t think YouTube explained their reasoning because they didn’t have any”, Fischer said. “This seemed like a rushed rollout with a lot of bad calls made by people who didn’t likely look deeply at what they were doing.”
Fischer believes that YouTube is attempting to cleanse its entire platform of controversy. In purging content that contains controversial political extremists, YouTube is guiding their website to produce more “mainstream” content, doing so in a way that is “palatable, and ultimately profitable.”
“They are in it for money. They don’t care about Crowder. They don’t care about Maza”, Fischer explains. “They care about dollars and will enforce whatever policies are best for their bottom line.” (RELATED: Google Employees Are Mad YouTube Didn’t Lower The Boom On Steven Crowder)
While mostly targeting conservative leaning content, YouTube’s purge has transcended party lines, targeting both far-right and far-left content. The purge has extended even to Max Blumenthal, the editor of the Grayzone Project and New York Times bestselling author. Blumenthal’s politics are considered far-left and has written for many liberal media entities like The Daily Beast and AlterNet.
Last Friday, Blumenthal tweeted in opposition to the purge, admitting that his video on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) channel was removed after he was caught “exposing Holocaust revisionist David Irving as a fascist and fraud historian.” As with Fischer, YouTube assumed that Blumenthal was promoting Irving’s extreme ideas, instead of covering him in a critical way. (RELATED: Liberals Cry Censorship After YouTube Demonetizing Frenzy Hits SPLC Content)
In an email to Blumenthal, YouTube explained that his content broke their rules and violated the online “safe place” the company seeks to maintain, according to the LA Times.
“YouTube is relying on faulty AI or a sweatshop full of overworked vendors unable to properly determine what hateful content constitutes,” Blumenthal told The Daily Caller. “Beyond that, the demonization and deplatforming purges we’ve seen on social media are pilot programs for a coming campaign to purge social media of prominent voices that dissent against the consensus.”
Blumenthal contends that his website Grayzone is also suppressed by Google’s search algorithms and that half of their videos have already been demonetized on YouTube, which is owned by Google.