UK Conservative Party Decides To Memory Hole Its YouTube Presence As Well

from the three-years-of-content-is-not-really-an-'archive' dept

It appears the UK Conservative Party isn’t quite finished “archiving” its history into the nearest memory hole. Last week, it was discovered that PM David Cameron’s party’s webmasters had sent speeches made from 2000-2010 into the ether, aided by an altered robots.txt that kept Google from crawling its pages and prompted a retroactive deletion of the corresponding pages from the Internet Archive.

The Guardian passes on the news that the same behavior is being observed over at the Conservative’s YouTube account.

Now it has emerged that every video on the Conservatives’ YouTube page that dates from before 2010 has been removed or marked as private. Videos such as Ask David Cameron: Shared ownership, EU referendum, PMQs are now marked as unavailable on YouTube. Others, such as Boris Johnson at the pre-election rally in Swindon, and David Cameron down on the farm, are now unlisted, ensuring that only users with a direct link can see them.

WebcameronUK, the official YouTube channel now hosts only 60 videos. At the moment, 296 videos are still listed at the Conservative’s official site. However, videos created previous to the party’s arbitrary cutoff date will not load (which, in this case, appears to be April 24, 2009).

A member of the Conservative party offered this excuse.

On Wednesday, Chris Grayling said that there is “a limit to how much you can put and keep on your website year after year”, and a Conservative spokesman claimed that the changes to the website were to “allow people to quickly and easily access the most important information we provide – how we are clearing up Labour’s economic mess, taking the difficult decisions and standing up for hardworking people.”

Yes, storage limits can be an issue, but it’s hard to believe the party currently in power in the UK can’t afford to purchase more. Furthermore, if storage is such an issue, let YouTube handle the storage/bandwidth and just host links at the website. Finally, storing text takes next to no space at all, so this excuse doesn’t really pan out for all the (text only) speeches the Conservatives removed last week.

The second statement is nothing but spin, so nothing to see here. And the spokesmen didn’t have much to say when confronted with previous non-theoretically-storage-related actions.

When asked about the YouTube deletions and why it was necessary to remove webpages from the Internet Archive, a spokesperson for the Conservatives declined to comment.

What this looks like is a swift rewrite of history ahead of the general election. ComputerWeekly, which broke the news of the first Conservative history cull, suggested the party was attempting to bury Cameron’s old campaign promises, which revolved around openness and transparency. The Guardian has another theory.

Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, pointed out that the material is still available on the UK Web Archive, a project run by the British Library to archive British websites.

Nonetheless, he said: “The suspicion has to be that at the point they are engaged in a huge debate about mass surveillance … they are removing the videos where they criticise Labour for doing the same thing. That’s why it’s absolutely important that that material remains available.”

Sadly, it’s not just one political party refurbishing its past. The Labour party has been busy as well.

Labour has also edited its news archive. The party’s new website only goes back to September 2010, leaving Ed Miliband’s keynote at the party conference that year the oldest speech available. But unlike the Conservatives, Labour didn’t require internet archivists to remove stored versions, leaving pages dating back to July 2002 in the database.

Archives for both are still available elsewhere, but the public-facing sites themselves are now willfully incomplete. The digital age may have promised a future of transparency and openness, but both parties have chosen to use these tools to craft flattering narratives and spirit away inconsistencies.

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Comments on “UK Conservative Party Decides To Memory Hole Its YouTube Presence As Well”

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out_of_the_blue says:

Well, who the hell cares? Weren't checking on them before!

Only desperately trivial weenies keep close track of what politicians say: everyone awake knows they’re lying and the general outlines of the surveillance state; knowing prior details doesn’t help us get rid of their tyranny.

Write about something useful, like this fairly current:

Google aims to replace car dashboard buttons with Minority Report hand gestures

“Google proposes using three dimensional video cameras inside the vehicle to recognise the gestures and a speaking function or display would confirm the function selected.”

Which actually goes right along with the Renault “battery DRM” that ran here, because it’s taking control away from persons and giving it to computers for definite remote-control besides the full time spying. And talk about unnecessary! — So obviously the actual purpose is control of people via gadgets.

The rabid “technocracy” of gadgetry being put in place will soon affect us all a lot more than whether can peruse some damn fascist’s old speech. You should focus on where we’re going and how to re-gain control of our lives.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re: Well, who the hell cares? Weren't checking on them before!

The Crazy Copyright/Cat Lady has a blog but has banned commenting and nobody reads it anyway. I went there once and believe me, I’m not going again. It’s a nasty black hole of evilness and sucky conspiracy theories that would make Alex Jones double-take. Oh, and she hates teh googlez with a passion while insisting on using it to tell us so as if there were no other services available.

She’s here in the hope of winning followers but even the other trolls don’t like her much.

Lately, she has come to realize that nobody cares too much for her opinions, so she just rants at Mike, Google, and “The Rich,” as if that’d make a difference.

She’s a failed content creator who couldn’t make it in the real world and that’s what underpins everything she says here. Apparently, Google, Communists, and everything else she hates is responsible for her failures. Actually, it’s her narcissistic arrogance that’s to blame. She can’t learn because she knows it all so she just keeps going round in circles in the vain expectation that we’ll all climb on board eventually.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Well, who the hell cares? Weren't checking on them before!

Well, who the hell cares?

Well, who the hell made you the boss of what other people care about? Just because you don’t care about historical data doesn’t mean that it isn’t either useful or desired by others. This is why no one takes you seriously, blue. You somehow have this idea that no one else’s desires or opinions matter but your own, and we should all just bow down and agree with you. It’s why you never bother with substantive proof or fleshing out any of your laughable theories.

Anonymous Coward says:

the promises of transparency and openness were only going to be available as long as no one found out what complete lying arse holes the whole lot of them are! this removal of items has been done by Cameron’s lot in an effort to try to stop people seeing what promises he made prior to the last GE and compare them to what he has actually done! ie, everything opposite to what he promised!

Anonymous Coward says:

What was that meme about hiding your kids and your wife?

The BS in politics is endemic of the system, what we need is a new system, one that is more open and transparent and less susceptible to closed doors attempts to rewrite its core systems.

Look at open source and how it functions, look at how ants and bees function and some new ideas will become clear to anyone wanting real change.

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Sort of

suggested the party was attempting to bury Cameron’s old campaign promises, which revolved around openness and transparency.

I’ve come to the conclusion that when this clown says “Openness and transparency”, he’s talking about making everyone’s private life open and transparent to the government rather than the other way round.

sovereigntea says:

Saul Alinsky - Revolutionary

If I search the recently airbrushed Tory website using the facility on their web page for “Alinsky” the only result is this.

About 1 results (0.06 seconds)

Big Society Paper_v4:Layout 2
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat
In the US, the community organising endowment established by Saul Alinsky has trained generations of community organisers, including President Obama.…/building-a-big-society.ashx

Clicking the link opens up a pdf viewer but the pdf file does not download, the. I find the names in the text most interesting Mr hopey change himself.

Why is Big Society Cameron deploying a network of 5000 community organisers in the UK ? What revolutionary purpose do they serve ?

sovereigntea says:

Alinsky see FMR Royal Navy at UK Column Live – 18th November 2013 Video

see Article Common Purpose In Your Locality?

On 31st March 2010 the Conservative Home Blog (see fact box) published an article in which they wrote about new government policies which included:

Creating a Neighbourhood army’ of 5,000 fill time, professional community organisers who will be trained with the skills they need to identify local community leaders, bring communities together, help people start their own neighbourhood groups, and give communities the help they need to take control and tackle their problems. This plan is based on the successful community organising movement established by Saul Alinski.
Creating a Big Society Bank, funded from unclaimed bank assets, which will leverage private sector investment to provide hundreds of millions of pounds of new finance for neighbourhood groups, charities, social enterprises and other nongovernmental bodies.

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