YouTube: racism and homophobia are OK

I mentioned in a post some time ago that I was disappointed that a video with a bit of swearing in (Nick’s epic bowling movie, for example) could be banned from YouTube.com whereas videos from the BNP which solicited almost explicitly racist comments are left untouched. This situation is symptomatic of a problem with the far-right in online communities: they’re far better organised than the left wing are. So, for example, a video during which a Socialist party member reads from a selection of BNP literature and describes them as racist is met with responses like ” Can you explain the non-stop HATE I see every day in the eyes of black men…?”.

Later, the comments devolve into opposing sides referring to eachother as “Moron” and later, “C*nt”. Intriguingly, this last word is banned from videos on YouTube but not from the comments people leave. Check out the abuse this user gets on his profile page. Interestingly, I only stumbled upon that user’s profile because he, in turn, had been sending me offensive and threatening messages because he thought I’d posted a video spoofing homophobic reggae ‘star’, Buju Banton. In turn, a video of fellow reggae performer Shabba Ranks saying the bible supports Buju’s positon features the comment “Heah i aint famous so f*ck it, all queers should be shot dead it aint right and should be dealt with by aggression and plenty of it cut there cocks off if they cant use it properly f*ckin sick bastards.. [sic]”.

I recognise that in the US, where YouTube is registered, there exists a stronger belief in freedom of expression, whatever offence is caused. And yet, YouTube’s Community Guidelines state “We encourage free speech and defend everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view. But we don’t permit hate speech which contains slurs or the malicious use of stereotypes intended to attack or demean a particular gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or nationality”. The advice given by YouTube is that if you’re not happy with something, you should flag it as inappropriate and it will be dealt with. I know, however, that this is just not applied to offensive comments.

So what should be done? Some people will say that frankly, freedom of speech should be upheld above all other rights. I disagree when it comes to hate speech as categorised in YouTube’s own rules. YouTube really needs to make more of an effort to moderate debate on its pages. There’s no stopping stupid thugs making unpleasant videos like this but YouTube should be checking the content that gets uploaded to its site.

20 thoughts on “YouTube: racism and homophobia are OK

  1. i’m never offended by comments on youtube, even ones containing ‘hate speech’. I think its good to know what people are thinking. Telling people they can’t think or say particular things seems odd to me.

    I also don’t understand YouTube censoring cunt – is this true of the over 18 section also?

    The last video you link to is also quite funny, the guy being harassed seems amused himself at one point. The guy doing the harrassing comes off as a wanker, but again I don’t see that as a reason for censorship (otherwise you’d have to ban a lot of content of most tv shows đŸ˜‰

    1. How you can say that a person being haressed is funny? That video was taken in Spain, and I don’t know how the things work in your country but in Spain this kind of video is totally illegal. You can’t make public footage of an anonymous person, specially to make fun of him/her without their approval. It’s called ‘Right to the self image’.

      1. Read the law. Then talk. The guy filmed does not claim his droit Ă  l’image. Instead, he talks straight to the camera.

        On a sidenote, I don’t know if the guy is gay, but he sounds Italian.

        1. I guess you are the one that should read the Law. The right to self image can be claimed anytime during the lifetime, not necessary must be claimed during the act of taking your image and talking to the guy that holds the camera doesn’t count as approval to distribute his image.

  2. Its a good point you make. Why on earth do YouTube ban hate videos when they don’t ban hateful comments?

    I guess YouTube would argue its simply a matter of volume – it would be very hard to monitor the thousands of videos uploaded daily although they could surely put in a filter for certain keywords in the comments.

    I think if you start introducing censorship into any part of the internet though its a bit dangerous. I think the only thing you can do to people that believe that filth is to try and reason with them its wrong.

    Anyway, thanks for linking to that Shabba clip. What that clip didn’t show is the end of the interview where Shabba Ranks rejects Mark Lamar’s protestations saying, “Me shoot dem all wit mi elefant riiifle.”

    I couldn’t work out what some of the comments left on that video meant either, especially this one:

    “Well after mi listen to it, mi tek dat rite back. Whe di freedom a speech fi people fi real?? Yuh cyan disagree wid gay livity now? Di whole world dun fuk up, evrybaddi gaan a hell….Shabba…mi lose offa yuh tuh rahtid *chupse*”

  3. I was getting irritated at all the racist commentry on yt, so I googled for this specifically and found this.

    “YouTube really needs to make more of an effort to moderate debate on its pages. ”
    Agree 100%

  4. Another problem is that people can have multiple accounts, lie about their age and get access to inappropriate videos. And I do agree with you on this whole situation of moderating the situation but it is difficult for youtube, (they brought this upon themselves) because ANYONE in the WORLD who has access to youtube can upload a video, or comment with ‘hate speech.’Also the ban of an account for this hate speech is quickly turned around by a fraud account. I’m afraid youtube must undergo a lot of work to solve this problem, maybe even “restart” the system in a way. But it’ll take some convincing…

  5. @ Ryan – thanks for your comments. I agree with what you’ve said: it will be difficult for Google to fix this broken system. But they should fix it, and they are Google.

  6. You must understand that the more they moderate the more people they will lose to other websites. They know this and as such take a lenient approach and leave the moderation up the community. This means that the majority rules and that racism, sexism, etc run rampant. They start blocking users that means less videos on youtube and more on another site meaning less visitors and a stronger competitor.

  7. YouTube needs a group of moderators to monitor all commentary for videos. All racist, sexist and homophobic commentary should be deleted and the person/people who posted it should be permanently banned and all their material should be removed. Even videos with racist titles and tags should be removed for violation of terms of use. The same deal applies to videos on both Google and MySpace. It’s time to clean up these video-sharing websites, once and for all.

  8. Tottally agree with you. It is sickening to see this parade of hate spreading videos, channels and comments o youtube. But what can be done? I have tryed reporting and flagging but the videos and channels remain there.

  9. I haven’t seen many hateful videos on youtube, but that’s probably because I don’t look for them. What I have noticed on youtube is that practically every video’s comment section, no matter what the video is about, is filled with random hate-filled comments. It astonishes me that some people’s minds don’t seem to extend beyond their hate. If there’s a video on youtube about teddy bears or rainbows or unicorns, I’d wager there’s a comment about “niggers” somewhere underneath it.

    That’s the unfortunate downside to the freedom of the internet – give people a safe environment to express themselves and you’ll hear the worst of them. And of course, the people with nothing of value to say are usually the most vocal. (But for every racist comment, how many more people didn’t post a racist comment? My point is that it looks like there are more ignorant asses per capita than there actually are, because people who don’t think that way aren’t being represented.)

    Anyway, I’m all for freedom of speech, and youtube is a valid medium which should not be censored, but that right doesn’t extend to the comment section. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want whenever you want to whomever you want. Example: The KKK is free to hold a rally where they preach to the public about all their racist ideas, but some random bigot shouting racial slurs at the mall is going to get arrested. Youtube should treat their comment section as if it were a mall, not a rally.

    Here’s an idea: Comments are scanned before they’re posted, and if any inappropriate words are detected the comment isn’t posted. You don’t get to revise it. It just discards the comment and forces you to write it again from scratch. This won’t solve the problem, but it’ll tone it down at least.

  10. I totally agree! For example my spanish teacher had made a video last year and posted it to youtube. Guess What? We got a user that said c.nt in a sentence for no reason. There are many examples of this and i think it’s wrong. I do think freedom of speech is ok, but only if it makes a valid point, and yelling at a spanish teaching video is not neccesary.

  11. It’s like if youtube isn’t going to do anything about it, who’s going to step in? I mean, at some point can’t our U.S. government step in. Racist and homophobes shouldn’t be allowed to spread their hate. Given the popularity of youtube I doubt they give a damn about any of their complaints which leads me to believe that maybe we should complain to our government. I get sick to my stomach at all the racism and homophobia that site is filled with

  12. We aren’t all Us (portuguese here) citizens and we wont all have the same idea of what is censorship or what should be censored. In my country, because we had a long fascist dictatorship, the spreading of fascism is banned. In Germany for the same reasons the same happens.

    For those who say freedom of speech is more important I would say moderation is the base of all social behaviour. That youtube is serving as a rallying point and sorce of self justification thru the approval of others of behaviours that are damaging to society.

    the golden rule: do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself should be the key. Would a blue eyed person enjoy being descriminated against because of those blue eyes? Would a straight person enjoy being thrown out of a bar because they kissed their partner there when gay people are doing it openly in the same place? Woukld a man like being told he will be payed less for the same job that a woman does?

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