Sunday, December 19, 2010

Shame on Google and YouTube

As an organization, Google seems to have trouble deciding which values it wants to uphold. on its corporate website, Google states that there are 10 things that they know to be true. Number six on this list states that, "you can make money without doing evil." Google except that it is a business, and that it does need to make money in order to survive. Letting their position, they offer three bullet points explaining how they can make money without doing evil to the user. Apparently, the only view it is evil when it's advertising done in the way which may be considered offensive to the user, such as pop-up ads or ads that don't clearly identify themselves as such.

It's interesting that they limit themselves in such a way. Why?

Other than Google's flagship search engine, perhaps the most used and liked of Google's products is YouTube. Google has had to navigate a careful course in operating you to, making sure they keep itself firmly within the safe harbor provisions of the law while the same time allowing users to put up content that they like. Because Google can't simply allow anything to be put up on YouTube, because let's face it if they allow people to be put up on YouTube that would cause a huge problem both legally and financially for the company, their terms of service which govern what types of videos can be uploaded to YouTube. in section 6 of the terms of service, subpart E, states that "You further agree that you will not submit to the Service any Content or material is contrary to the YouTube community guidelines, currently found at, which may be updated from time to time, or contrary to applicable local, national, and international laws regulations."

Among the things that YouTube states are not allowed by the community guidelines include:

  • pornography
  • "bad stuff" (i.e. animal abuse, drug abuse, underage drinking and smoking, or bomb making)
  • graphic or gratuitous violence
  • copyrighted material that the poster does not hold the copyright to
  • Spam
  • videos of the predatory nature, which YouTube defines as stalking, threats, intimidation, invading privacy, revealing other people's personal information, and inciting others to commit violence or to violate the terms of use.

So now we've established what YouTube is not supposed to allow to be posted on its site.

That's why it's kind of curious about some of Google/YouTube latest enforcement of its terms of service. On December 18, 2010, YouTube closed down the account belonging to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW). According to Google, this was done because PMW's postings constituted "hate speech".  At some point over the weekend, the order was changed ordering taking down, seemingly, all videos posted by PMW in the past five months (i.e. around July 2010 to date). PMW's videos are taken, in most cases, directly from Arab media or from other postings on YouTube itself and used to show divide between the lip service that the terrorist organizations, such as Hamas and the PLO, give to the West and the actual words they say to their followers and allies. 

While PMW is under threat of being shut down,  mainly due complaints it appears from the Arab/Muslim groups, it is interesting to note that it is relatively easy to find videos supporting terrorist organizations and celebrating terrorist victories (i.e. war porn) on YouTube. Yet YouTube seems to do little to root them out.

Consider this, YouTube makes money off these videos. All of them carry advertising. And they get a lot of hits world wide from supporters.

Google says that you can make money without doing evil. Well, isn't it evil to shut down those that shine a light on to evil, while allowing the actual evil doers to continue spreading their message of hate and destruction?

So far, Google has sided with Communist China and supporters of Islamic terror organizations.  In the former case, Google only stopped siding with the Communist Chinese when the PRC began hacking Google's servers. Perhaps there is hope for Google. Although, if history is a guide, it will probably take a suicide bomber at a Google facility to get them to recognize the difference between opposing evil and being a fellow traveller.

But on can hope that Google will remember that there is more to evil than pop ups and unidentified ads.

No comments: