Nearly one year ago, several YouTube content creators and journalists came out saying the organization had started to drop certain videos from its monetized listings. Many complained that, while the company has the right to change its policy or act on it as it sees fit, many of the videos that had been “de-monetized” were about political subjects. Most specifically, these videos were critical of the government.
Now, former congressman Ron Paul is suffering the same type of scrutiny, with several of his “Ron Paul Liberty Report” videos being de-monetized overnight.
In a tweet, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange shared a screenshot of Paul’s YouTube account depicting the videos that had been flagged as unfit for monetization, showing that in most cases, the former presidential candidate discussed Afghanistan, Wikileaks, and the U.S. government financing terrorists abroad while pretending to fight them.
— Assange Defence (@AssangeDefence) August 26, 2017
Calling it “economic censorship,” Assange suggested this behavior showed YouTube may not like content creators who criticize U.S. foreign policy or who mention Wikileaks.
Much like the complaints dating back to 2016, YouTubers seem to find that every other one of their political videos, even the popular ones, are targeted.
As a private organization, YouTube has the right to revoke monetization privileges from users. But it’s always worth to take a look at the current environment to try to understand why such companies would be targeting this or that political group. It’s also worth to look at the company’s politics to determine whether they favor certain narratives over others.
In YouTube’s case, it’s easy to see what kind of policies they fancy.
Owned by Alphabet Inc., the company behind Google, YouTube has a virtual monopoly over video production online. YouTube’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki, one of the many executives in Silicon Valley who endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, may not like government critics.
Because of her support for the Democratic ticket, one may speculate she isn’t into criticism of certain foreign policies not because her candidate turned out to be president, but because President Donald Trump ended up enacting certain foreign policies regarding Afghanistan that would have made Clinton proud.
But the YouTube CEO isn’t to blame for the toxic and hostile culture that has been driving so many out of Silicon Valley lately alone. She is an example of what has become the acceptable norm.
Facebook, Twitter, and Google have all been strongly criticized for sometimes shunning debate in their pages, whether by censoring news stories critical of their political allies or by blocking accounts sharing content seen as offensive.
Now, PayPal and other financial institutions that became popular in the internet age are also cutting off companies or organizations being accused of spewing divisive rhetoric.
But in the aftermath of Google’s firing of engineer James Damore over a memo criticizing the company’s diversity efforts, entrepreneurs who are betting on free speech and free speech only got a huge boost in their fundraising efforts.
Seeing a niche that has been marginalized and pushed to the shadows, the creators of Gab are betting on developing a social media platform that does not sensor. In other words, they developed the private market response to the ongoing blacklisting efforts that are so common online.
But to get to this point, companies like Facebook, YouTube, and others must have reached a wall. After all, even after so much hard work to maintain such a close relationship with Washington, D.C., these organizations are still not able to keep all competitors at bay. And as YouTube censors content creators like Paul, firms like Gab are starting to cash in.
So the lesson companies like YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook should learn from keeping antiwar free marketers and anarchists, radical leftists, Trump supporters, Austrian economists, offensive personalities, bigots, and yes, even terrorist sympathizers of all kinds from having access to social media is that the only ones hurting from being kept from the exposure are the everyday consumers. They are the ones who will either become radicalized by being driven into the shadows or who will simply take their business elsewhere.
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