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Author Topic: Should YouTube 'police' hate comments & etc? (Content warning)  (Read 244 times)

PerditaPickle

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Should YouTube 'police' hate comments & etc? (Content warning)
« on: September 27, 2020, 09:35:28 pm »
Content warning: sensitive topics talked about below, such as threats of violence & etc.


I've been watching a range of different YouTube channels recently, and a few YouTubers have been mentioning the fact that they regularly get hate comments and even death threats.

Should YouTube the platform be doing more to 'police' these comments and messages?

It's one thing to comment on a video with something like "You're crap, I'll never be watching you again" and it's quite another to be threatening people.
[Sensitive topic:]
Spoiler:  
Or especially telling them they should go kill themselves, which was one of the recently mentioned ones (aimed, no less, at someone who is a mental ill-health sufferer!)

And I don't feel that anyone should be having to put up with that when it's very likely  preventable (or, largely so).
And that's regardless of how controversial their content is (obviously, the makers of said content need to be complying with YouTube's terms of service, for their part).

What are others' thoughts?
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Re: Should YouTube 'police' hate comments & etc? (Content warning)
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2020, 11:42:57 pm »
Content warning: sensitive topics talked about below, such as threats of violence & etc.


I've been watching a range of different YouTube channels recently, and a few YouTubers have been mentioning the fact that they regularly get hate comments and even death threats.

Should YouTube the platform be doing more to 'police' these comments and messages?

It's one thing to comment on a video with something like "You're crap, I'll never be watching you again" and it's quite another to be threatening people.
[Sensitive topic:]
Spoiler:  
Or especially telling them they should go kill themselves, which was one of the recently mentioned ones (aimed, no less, at someone who is a mental ill-health sufferer!)

And I don't feel that anyone should be having to put up with that when it's very likely  preventable (or, largely so).
And that's regardless of how controversial their content is (obviously, the makers of said content need to be complying with YouTube's terms of service, for their part).

What are others' thoughts?

I think that it ought to be a very clear black & white choice:
  • If you want to be protected from legal liability for the speech of your users, you must not edit or regulate their content in any way. They have to do it themselves. You are essentially acting as a public utility, which provides services to skinheads and schoolhouses all the same.
  • If you exercise any editorial control over content posted on your site, then you become legally responsible for that content. Act wisely.
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Anon100

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Re: Should YouTube 'police' hate comments & etc? (Content warning)
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2020, 05:34:35 am »
I think that it ought to be a very clear black & white choice:
  • If you want to be protected from legal liability for the speech of your users, you must not edit or regulate their content in any way. They have to do it themselves. You are essentially acting as a public utility, which provides services to skinheads and schoolhouses all the same.
  • If you exercise any editorial control over content posted on your site, then you become legally responsible for that content. Act wisely.

The problem then comes in, that sites which allow uncontrolled content really need at least some age rating protection or warnings at entrance to prevent children and others who are vulnerable being put in bad positions.
I think it's also part of this world albeit in cyberspace. Right now a lot of people are saying we can't keep ignoring hate in real life - seems to me we'd be making a big mistake in allowing it to keep going in one, very public, corner.

Yes, complaints or creative critisism is normal and fine but hate is not.
Admittedly I'd prefer to see that hate publicly disproved rather than just squashed ( hopefully diminishing it rather than just hiding it where it can still grow ) but I agree it shouldn't be allowed to stand unchallenged, and it certainly shouldn't be allowed to sit around where it can hurt someone who's vulnerable to such attacks.

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Re: Should YouTube 'police' hate comments & etc? (Content warning)
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2020, 09:45:45 am »
What are others' thoughts?

It's complicated, because it's a mix of legal requirements, legal issues, and the fact that any social media platform that relies on advertising is in a situation where controversial content that raises strong emotions is something they want to build for, not necessarily control (i.e. the financial rewards happen when lots of people engage with a thing, which works most reliably if strong emotions are involved.)

For US based companies, there's a mess of legal things that basically mean that a company can't filter content before posting unless they filter all the content that's posted. Obviously, that's unrealistic in a setting where hundreds of hours of video content and thousands if not millions of comments are posted every minute.

Artificial intelligence solutions are improving, but they're still an awfully blunt instrument - there are lots of ways real humans can work around something, punctuate differently, make a reference to a threat that at first glance doesn't look like a threat, etc. And in the meantime, those blunt solutions will take down a lot of legitimate content (they tend to further marginalise marginalised creators of all kinds, for one thing.)

On the human side, processing complaints about this content takes a huge toll, and one that most people using sites don't know much about.

(I was a volunteer on the LiveJournal terms of service team, handling concerns, in 2003-2004: people post and report all sorts of stuff, a lot of it awful, and that was back before sharing video was particularly simple. It is draining, warping, and difficult - and we were in a situation where most of us were volunteers and could take breaks without affecting our income, though there are other obvious issues with that.)

Here's a recent article (warning: discusses disturbing contents and also their effects on the people handling reports) about that at Pinterest, but there have been other pieces in the past year or so about YouTube, Facebook, and basically every other big site that has lots of user-posted content.

Now, there are ways to improve things - for example, giving creators strong well-designed tools to control who can post on their space (but someone will still have to maintain that, and there are plenty of people who will get banned, find a way around the ban, and come right back again to do the same thing again. Over and over.) But at the same time, a lot of creators rely on having comments and interaction available as a reason for people to stick around and watch/engage with their stuff.

And on the third hand, while there are a bunch of wonderful humans out there on the internet, there are also a lot of people who just enjoy making trouble, being hurtful, etc. Not even because they care about the topic, they just like getting a reaction somehow, however they can. While I agree consequences would be great here, in practical terms they're very difficult to make happen in a wide open space. (It's part of why a number of creators have moved the comments part of what they pay attention to to something like Patreon or another closed community with a higher bar for participation.)

I honestly expect the latter (plus maybe a rise of tools for comment moderation that could be used by virtual assistants or moderation-focused equivalents) to be the way things are going to go, because while I'm a generally optimistic human, I'm cynical about what the big online spaces are willing to do when it comes to the question of "make more money" or "treat people better".
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Re: Should YouTube 'police' hate comments & etc? (Content warning)
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2020, 01:32:01 am »
The problem then comes in, that sites which allow uncontrolled content really need at least some age rating protection or warnings at entrance to prevent children and others who are vulnerable being put in bad positions.
I think it's also part of this world albeit in cyberspace. Right now a lot of people are saying we can't keep ignoring hate in real life - seems to me we'd be making a big mistake in allowing it to keep going in one, very public, corner.

Yes, complaints or creative critisism is normal and fine but hate is not.
Admittedly I'd prefer to see that hate publicly disproved rather than just squashed ( hopefully diminishing it rather than just hiding it where it can still grow ) but I agree it shouldn't be allowed to stand unchallenged, and it certainly shouldn't be allowed to sit around where it can hurt someone who's vulnerable to such attacks.

I hear what you're saying, BUT...where do you draw the line? In a place like The Cauldron, where there is (for the most part) forbearance and tolerance of differing opinions, our hosts can say "Don't be a jerk" and a Christian fundamentalist dedicated to traditional moral values can engage in mostly polite give and take with pagans and homosexual activists. But when you're codifying such things into law, you have to draw a hard line somewhere and it needs to be clear exactly where it is.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, YouTube is willing to entertain hate groups and others who generate conflict; it's good for ratings. What they do NOT tolerate, however, is anyone who dissents from their own preferred policy lines. As an example: I follow a gentleman on another site who, while not a doctor, is an expert at analyzing data sets and who has been following the Coronavirus news since the beginning of the year. He concluded back in February based upon reports from Diamond Princess and transmission in apartment buildings built without sewer traps overseas that the primary (not exclusive, but primary) mode of transmission of this virus was fecal/oral and that masks, etc., were therefore useless.

His data is impeccably sourced and his conclusions align with it completely. YouTube has essentially de-platformed him...not because his conclusions are faulty, but because they disagree with the ones which YouTube's management prefers. There are other well-reported instances of a video produced by a group of doctors which was critical of the CDC's conclusions as well as another of a nurse who worked and observed appalling conditions in a New York City coronavirus hospital being taken down as well.

I'm not saying that YouTube has no right to do so; they are a private entity. But if they are thus exercising editorial control over content which they disagree with, then it is only proper to conclude that anything which remains on their site does so with their knowledge and approval. Material which infringes copyright? They want it there. Hate groups calling for violence? They want it there. And so they can and should be held legally responsible for any material on their site, as well as the consequences which arise from anyone who acts upon that material.

If they are not willing to bear legal liability for the material which is on their site, then they need to act (and be regulated) as a public utility. If you go to your local retail electricity provider with an application, the applicable deposit requirement, and a wiring system which meets code then your power gets turned on. It matters not whether you are a charity hospital caring for orphans or the headquarters of a neo-Nazi front group.

That's the model which I believe should apply. Either host material from all impartially and let those who upload it bear the responsibility for their content, or else filter it according to your own standards and YOU bear the responsibility for that content. No in-betweens—at least as far as the law is concerned. Really, though...is there any way that we can just get back to simple politeness?
--------Eric H. Bowen
Where's the KABOOM? There was supposed to have been an Earth-shattering KABOOM!
Computers are like air conditioning. They become useless when you open Windows—Linus Torvalds.

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