And A Million Rickrolls Went Silent... Demonstrating The Problem Of Pressuring Google To Takedown Without Due Process

from the this-is-what-you-get dept

So, just after the news came out last night that Google execs were criminals for not taking down videos fast enough, suddenly people started noticing that the original infamous Rickroll video had been taken down, due to a "terms of service" violation. While some assumed that it was a copyright takedown, usually Google is pretty good about clarifying when it's an actual copyright takedown. This was clearly something different. After a few hours of people screaming about missing Rick Astley, Google put the video back up, saying it was caused by too many people "flagging" the video as violating the terms of service, leading to yanking the video.

In the end, this demonstrates the difficult position that Google is put in. It's getting sued by entertainment companies, threatened by politicians and now convicted of crimes for being "too slow" in taking down "bad" videos (with "bad" often being loosely defined). So it creates systems to try to speed up the process, and the end result is that those systems can be abused as well, leading to videos getting taken down without due process. What's amazing is that people still think that Google can easily figure out which videos should be kept up and which should be taken down -- but when you consider just how much content is on the site, and the difficulty of reviewing any complaints, and the likelihood of both false positives and false negatives in reviewing videos, it's really incredible that anyone thinks it's reasonable for Google to take responsibility for the content.

The "rickroll" incident is a pretty clear indicator of why trying to put secondary liability on a third party like Google will almost certainly lead to more incidents like this -- where legitimate content is taken offline due to a legally mandated itchy trigger finger.

Filed Under: flagging, rickroll, secondary liability, takedown, youtube
Companies: google


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Feb 2010 @ 1:23pm

    If you try to shorten the url with bit.ly it comes back with bit.ly/RR as the shortened URL. Hah.

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