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YouTube Suspends Egyptian Anti-Torture Activist's Account

from the unintended-consequences dept

YouTube is catching a lot of flack for suspending the account of an Egyptian activist who had captured evidence of police brutality on video and uploaded it to the site. YouTube's "community guidelines" state that "graphic or gratuitous violence is not allowed" on YouTube. Apparently, that includes graphic or gratuitous violence perpetrated by governments against innocent civilians. I have to say I don't understand why YouTube goes to so much trouble to censor "objectionable" content. If the goal is to keep such materials away from children, there are effective ways to do that without censoring the material altogether. Flickr, for example, permits pornographic photographs to be uploaded to its site, but it restricts access to them in various ways that helps prevent children from inadvertently stumbling across them. YouTube should be able to implement a similar system. Instead of deleting objectionable content, it should flag it as objectionable. Objectionable content might not show up on the home page or in the default search results. It might also require clicking through a warning page before viewing it. But it's hard to see what purpose is served by deleting the content entirely. The content will be posted somewhere else, where someone else will derive advertising revenue from it. And in the process, YouTube is inadvertently giving the impression that it is helping oppressive governments squelch criticism of their regimes.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 11:48am

    Don't they already have the "warning" page where you have to sign in and confirm you're 18 or older on some videos?

    What good does it do anyway? If people want to see it, they'll just find a different route to view it (sounds like someone on techdirt, I know)

     

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  2.  
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    Matthew, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 11:50am

    It's all about consistency

    Perhaps this doesn't help load the quivers for those against governmental oppression, but as long as the company has guidelines, and abides by them evenly, then kudos.

    Maybe they will put up an 18+ gate for such materials, but this seems more like principle than principal.

     

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  3.  
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    Dan, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 12:06pm

    You just defeated your own argument.....

    The whole point is for You Tube to keep it's viewership up (aka. including the kids). They stand to loose more from parents denying access {as hard as that may be}. Covert viewership [while the parents are in bed] is viewership lost for all practical purposes.

    I'm not saying it should be a 'kids only' YouTube. On the other hand, I don't see anything wrong with 'you have to draw the line somewhere'. Better them then the government screwing it up by meaningless, bipartisan, compromising, legislation that does nothing close to it's original intent.

    They're not "squelching" anything and everybody knows it.
    Like you said, "The content will be posted somewhere else, where someone else will derive advertising revenue from it...". We will all see it there, squelch-free.

     

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  4.  
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    Shun, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 12:11pm

    Google has a verification process

    Several times, when attempting to view "risque" material on Youtube, it asked for my Google username and password.

    So, Google has a method for making sure only "qualified" people view "bad" content. Then, the problem becomes, "Great, now Google knows what videos I'm into." They probably already know everything about me, now, so they could verify that I'm over 18, etc.

    So, Google is deleting videos it considers offensive. One thing you should be able to do is make a YouTube video highlighting your plight. Say in the video where the original content can be found, and tag your new video with the same tags as the old one.

    Google should be able to handle a little self-criticism. And if *that* video gets deleted, then we know that Google is censoring political speech, and not just uniformly deleting violent material.

     

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  5.  
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    Nick (profile), Nov 29th, 2007 @ 12:14pm

    Peter Gabriel welcomes such videos to his site. Someone let this guy know. http://www.witness.org

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 12:18pm

    RE: You just defeated your own argument.....

    The point of this article was not free-speech or what not. It was simply pointing out that youtube would stand to make more money if it allowed "offensive" videos to be uploaded.

    They also wouldn't have to pay for the finding/deleting them.

    It was simply about the economics.

     

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  7.  
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    YouKnowMe, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 12:31pm

    Like what he was posting is not known

    Come on we all know many Islamic governments attack, torture and injure their people. It's one of ways they stay in power. Why this guy needs to post it to show it is uninteresting

     

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  8.  
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    Wolferz (profile), Nov 29th, 2007 @ 12:41pm

    I expect more from TechDirt

    "Apparently, that includes graphic or gratuitous violence perpetrated by governments against innocent civilians." Of course it does. I don't see how which party perpetrated the violence or who the target of the violence is would change whether or not it qualifies as violence.

    What a statement like that does when taken within the context of th article and the rest of your post is try to connect the guy being an activist against torture to him being suspended from YouTube as cause and effect. I'm sure there are a lot of sheep out there that won't realize these two things are NOT cause and effect. However, I've come to expect much higher standards from TechDirt and I find it disappointing to see something like that here.

    He broke YouTube's rules and got suspended. The end. That the video in question was of torture is only relevant in that a video featuring torture, whether against torture or for it, is a blatant violation of YouTube's policies. Noble cause or not he violated the TOS he agreed to when he signed up and for that he got suspend.

    Kudos to the guy for trying to save humanity from itself but he needs to be respectful of the parties who are enabling him to do so. YouTube doesn't give a crap about torture. YouTube isn't a political entity. YouTube is a corporate entity and like other corporate entities its primary interest is in making money.

     

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  9.  
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    Rickler, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 12:46pm

    Even rated E for everyone American TV allows graphic and fowl language if it is a documentary or educational over the airwaves. Like the show "scared strait" on MTV with the imprisoned felons cussing at the visiting juveniles.

     

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  10.  
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    known coward, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 12:53pm

    so its OK

    for You Tube to show violence between kids and having them beat the crap out of each other, (look up girls fighting sometime) but when a gov't is involved they ban it.

    nice

     

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  11.  
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    codfish124, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 1:09pm

    iv had to put a password in to youtube

    iv put a password in to youtube to watch some "bad" content inculding an hanging im sure youll know who was hanged the last year

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 1:24pm

    "The content will be posted somewhere else, where someone else will derive advertising revenue from it."

    This is evidence of brutal suppression of civilians and techdirt -from the land of the free- is worried about who gets the advertising revenue !.

    We're not going to be free much longer.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    MiniDevil, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 3:43pm

    Re:

    "This is evidence of brutal suppression of civilians and techdirt -from the land of the free- is worried about who gets the advertising revenue !.

    We're not going to be free much longer."

    LMAO. Seems noone gives a crap if someone is tortured or not, as long as they can squabble over who gets the revenue.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Search. Engines WEB, Nov 29th, 2007 @ 4:21pm

    DeluTube

    http://youtube.infamousx.com/

    you can sometimes retrieve deleted YouTube vidoes form this online archive site

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2007 @ 9:55am

    Re: You just defeated your own argument.....

    The whole point is for You Tube to keep it's viewership up (aka. including the kids).
    Followed by...
    I'm not saying it should be a 'kids only' YouTube.
    Then who wrote that first paragraph if not you? Because that's sure what it sounds like. That's kind of like the guy who says "I don't like (insert race)" and then follows it up with "But I'm not racist". Yeah, right.
    They're not "squelching" anything and everybody knows it.
    Everybody knows no such thing. They certainly are "squelching" this video.
    "The content will be posted somewhere else, where someone else will derive advertising revenue from it...". We will all see it there, squelch-free.
    But not on YouTube, because they squelched it. Luckily, Google doesn't control all such sites, just the largest.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2007 @ 10:06am

    Re: so its OK

    Yeah, that's just what I was thinking. There are plenty of other violent videos on YouTube. Google seems to be applying the "violence" rule selectively. They're now so consumed with making money that they're afraid to offend a repressive regime for fear of being banned in that country and missing out on some possible future profits to be made. What a sellout.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Dan, Nov 30th, 2007 @ 3:07pm

    Re: Re: You just defeated your own argument.....

    "Then who wrote that first paragraph if not you?"

    My point, boldly missed by Coward:
    There are bad extremes to be suggested on both ends of this issue. Both need to be avoided for the likes of YouTube. They can't allow everything or censor everything in the mainstream.

    "Everybody knows no such thing. They certainly are "squelching" this video."

    EVERYBODY computer savy enough to be reading THIS blog can and will find it if they wish to, hence my statement. Any effort on YouTube's part to suppress is fruitless in regards to this audience.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2007 @ 2:44am

    Re: I expect more from TechDirt

    He broke YouTube's rules and got suspended. The end.
    Not when the rules are selectively enforced.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2007 @ 9:34am

    Re: Re: Re: You just defeated your own argument...

    My point, boldly missed by Coward:

    Said the guy who hit his thumb with the hammer: I meant to do that! Just making a point!

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Dan, Dec 1st, 2007 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: You just defeated your own argumen

    LOL!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    mike_lee, Dec 2nd, 2007 @ 3:38am

    "
    EVERYBODY computer savy enough to be reading THIS blog can and will find it if they wish to, hence my statement. Any effort on YouTube's part to suppress is fruitless in regards to this audience."

    I don't care if the 12 yo neighbor kid sees porn as long as he doesn't access it from my house.

    Simply concept youtube wants to remain in the middle. Plenty of places we can see the other stuff including google. You tube lets you cuss your heart out can't do that even on this blog (I'm guessing )

    do i dare test it? . . . ah. . . . . POOP!! (run mike . . . runaway)

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2007 @ 2:05pm

    Re:

    Simply concept youtube wants to remain in the middle.

    Google simply doesn't want to offend the Egyptian government by opposing torture.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    vila, Sep 2nd, 2008 @ 6:48am

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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    vila, Sep 2nd, 2008 @ 6:50am

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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
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