Censorship by mob rule is awful, but YouTube’s censorship by algorithm is a dumpster fire – Washington Examiner
The only revolving door more insufferable than that between Congress and K Street is between Media Matters and left-wing activism parading as “journalism.” And that national problem is best exemplified by Vox’s Carlos Maza, who was once described by the Columbia Journalism Review as “Brian Stelter meets NowThis,” and his histrionic war against independent content creators on YouTube.
Taking cues from Maza’s online meltdown over conservative comedian Steven Crowder, the tech giant hasn’t just demonetized one guy. Mob rule dictates both dangerous and ineffective guidelines for censorship, and YouTube’s attempts to silence Crowder are the ones generating most of the headlines. But even worse than the video platform’s submission to Maza’s specific demand is its expansion of censorship by algorithm.
Sure, Crowder makes off color, unfunny, and, at times offensive jokes. But YouTube also purged multiple accounts that do absolutely nothing objectionable yesterday. YouTube banned “Mr Allsop History Clips,” a since-restored and purely educational channel that shared videos about historical events. It also started pulling down videos from Ford Fischer, an objective news journalist who covers white supremacists. Rational Disconnect also had a video debunking far-right propaganda pulled from the site.
Maza’s meltdown posited two grave errors: one strategic and one moral. First, the only way YouTube could cave to his categorical demands and de-platform those he disagrees with was to do so by algorithm. A channel as innocuous — if not comically adorable — as “Mr Allsop History Clips” isn’t pulled down because of human error. It’s pulled down because algorithms are bad at discriminating between content. They often target the wrong accounts while the ones that actually violate terms of service learn how to game them. How bad are YouTube’s algorithms? They currently promote content for pedophiles without intending to.
More importantly, censorship is more than just impractical. It’s also a bad way of combating social ills in general.
Sunlight has and always will be the best disinfectant. Truly virulent racists and bigots will always have homes at 8chan and the Daily Stormer. But push non-bigoted dissenters off all the mainstream platforms, and they’ll join the actual bigots. From Owen Benjamin to James Allsup, we’ve seen time and time again fairly mainline but intentionally provocative conservatives get radicalized as they get pushed out of mainstream discourse by the censorious Carlos Mazas of the world. If Maza really wants to fight bigotry, he ought to be putting it in the spotlight instead of forcing it into the shadows.
Meanwhile, when Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., finally join forces to nationalize Big Tech, don’t say I didn’t warn you.