YouTube has changed its policies again and it has some Americans wondering if this is another step to limit free speech online.
YouTube sent a quarterly letter out on November 21, 2019. The letter, written by CEO Susan Wojcicki, said that the video site would be changing its policy to address hate speech and recent FTC-mandated rules for children’s content. These changes went into effect on December 11, 2019, and they’re already making some internet users very unhappy.
On its official blog, YouTube addressed its new policy regarding threats, personal attacks, harassment and hate speech.
According to YouTube’s statement:
“Moving forward, our policies will go a step further and not only prohibit explicit threats but also veiled or implied threats. This includes content simulating violence toward an individual or language suggesting physical violence may occur. No individual should be subject to harassment that suggests violence.”
Regarding actions that don’t explicitly threaten someone, YouTube clarified its position.
“Beyond threatening someone, there is also demeaning language that goes too far. To establish consistent criteria for what type of content isn’t allowed on YouTube, we’re building upon the framework we use for our hate speech policy. We will no longer allow content that maliciously insults someone based on protected attributes such as their race, gender expression, or sexual orientation. This applies to everyone, from private individuals to YouTube creators, to public officials.”
The problem with these new policies is that YouTube never explains exactly what it considers to be threatening or hateful. This lack of clarity leaves a lot of room for interpretation, which could potentially lead to discrimination based on beliefs.
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
Protection or Censorship?
However, there was one area where YouTube was very specific. It will no longer allow content that “maliciously insults someone based on protected attributes such as their race, gender expression, or sexual orientation.” This ability for YouTube alone to determine what constitutes “insulting” based on specific attributes is frightening.
It means that YouTube could potentially disable someone’s account or remove their videos because they are discussing topics like gender reassignment surgery in athletics, or whether a Christian church should be forced to allow gay weddings. At what point do we accept that some people will be offended by opinions? Especially when it comes to topics that are hotly debated in America.
Online bullying and harassment is certainly an issue that needs to end. However, we also need to allow people to have open, honest conversations about controversial topics, even if we don’t agree with their opinions.
Copyright 2019, TargetLiberty.org