YouTube Needs To Clarify Anti-Harassment Policies

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

The Google-owned social video platform ran into trouble again after it received urgent criticism for not doing enough to avoid harassment and abusive language, and not being able to protect LGBTQ users in the platform’s community.

The latest anti-harassment complaints come after The New York Times recently published article regarding YouTube’s algorithm as an open ground for pedophilia and is rampantly performing in its platform. Also, the issue comes similar to the previous February crackdown.

Today, the video platform released a blog post to clarify its position after a series of tweets that made it seem as if YouTube contradicted its anti-harassment policies. Moreover, the post indicated that YouTube would “provide more details and context than is possible in any one string of tweets” and promises that it will review its harassment policy. However, instead of adding light to the issue at hand, it still raises more questions.

Generally, there are interrogations about how YouTube is handling and working to absolve the video platform of bullying and hate speech — especially if the violence and hate come from a high-profile channel with millions of subscribers. “We are determined to evolve our policies, and continue to hold our creators and ourselves to a higher standard,” Youtube stated.

On Twitter, an online dispute between two YouTubers — Carlos Maza, who hosts for Vox, and Stephen Crowder, a conservative media personality — tackled YouTube’s confusing policies.

Apparently, the video social media site has been providing a convenient platform for Crowder’s videos that usually features bullying and homophobic speech. Crowder posted various videos involving Carlos Maza — where he made unnecessary comments with underlying and blatant tones on homophobia and racism., Maza claims.

In response to Maza’s Tweets, YouTube received backlash from the online community accusing the video site of allowing hate and racism, among others, to proliferate on its platform. Moreover, YouTube is receiving criticisms for not acting on the problematic videos sooner and implementing direct penalties.

Screen Shot From: Steven Crowder YouTube

YouTube replied to Maza in a series of tweets before demonetizing Crowder’s channels, creating confusion about how it enforces its strategies.

Read the entirety of YouTube’s response to Maza on Twitter:

(1/4) Thanks again for taking the time to share all of this information with us. We take allegations of harassment very seriously–we know this is important and impacts a lot of people.

(2/4) Our teams spent the last few days conducting an in-depth review of the videos flagged to us, and while we found language that was clearly hurtful, the videos as posted don’t violate our policies. We’ve included more info below to explain this decision:

(3/4) As an open platform, it’s crucial for us to allow everyone–from creators to journalists to late-night TV hosts–to express their opinions w/in the scope of our policies. Opinions can be deeply offensive, but if they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site.

(4/4) Even if a video remains on our site, it doesn’t mean we endorse/support that viewpoint.

This was found contradictory to YouTube’s current policies. Crowder’s derogatory references to Maza’s ethnicity and sexual orientation obviously violated several of YouTube’s anti-harassment and cyberbullying policy including “material that makes private comments/videos about another individual harmful and negative.”

As a punishment, the platform ultimately demonetized Crowder’s channel, which currently has more than 3.8 million subscribers, but then indicated that it would enable Crowder to begin making ad income again if he solved “all the problems” with his channel and stopped connecting to an internet store that sold shirts with homophobic statements.

Concerning Crowder’s public denouncement of YouTube, the latest blog post was allegedly spurred by government pressure on the business. YouTube has set up a blue-ribbon committee in reaction to the backlash and seems to be hoping that the tensions ease.

The choice of the company to take a second look at its strategies comes immediately after rolling out new steps to address the platform’s hate speech. It said it would prohibit videos promoting any group’s superiority as a justification for discrimination against other content creators based on “age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation, or their veteran status.”

In this very public debacle, the strategies of YouTube have not satisfied anyone, which is probably why the platform is now reconsidering them. “Policies need to keep up with current problems. One particular challenge we face more and more these days is creator-on-creator harassment,” YouTube wrote in its article.

But turning a blind eye to hateful and abusive material on its platform and enabling strong bullies to hide behind the ambiguity of “free speech”—sets a poor precedent by prioritizing financial earnings at the cost of the security of the platform’s content creators.

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