The beauty of YouTube is that user-generated content drives its success. Anyone can post some videos, cultivate a following and make a decent living. The problem is anyone can post a video and for too long YouTube has allowed blatant white supremacy go unchecked on the platform. That may be changing, though, as YouTube has begun to ban some of the most high profile creators who engage in this kind of content.
Variety reports that Stefan Molyneux, David Duke and Richard Spencer were among the six channels banned by the platform for violating its hate speech policy.
“We have strict policies prohibiting hate speech on YouTube, and terminate any channel that repeatedly or egregiously violates those policies,” YouTube said in a statement.
American Renaissance and its related podcasts were banned as well as Spencer’s channels related to the National Policy Institute/Radix Journal.
Messages on the channels that have been booted say, “This account has been terminated due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy prohibiting hate speech.”
The moves come under YouTube’s updated hate-speech policy, adopted a year ago, that bans videos and channels “alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status.” It also explicitly prohibits videos espousing conspiracy theories denying that certain violent events took place, like the Holocaust.
According to YouTube, after the update “to better address supremacist content” the platform increased video removals fivefold and to date has “terminated over 25,000 channels for violating our hate speech policies.”
David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, had 85,000 subscribers to his channel. Spencer had 24,000 subscribers between his two channels and American Renaissance had 152,500 subscribers between its two channels. Molyneux, by far, was the most prominent YouTuber to be included in the ban. Molyneux had 928,000 subscribers and over 300 million lifetime views.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has said that Molyneux’s content “amplifies ‘scientific racism,’ eugenics and white supremacism to a massive new audience.” Molyneux was one of the more prominent creators who soft pedaled far-right ideologies and was instrumental in the rise of the alt-right movement throughout the 2016 election. Molyneux, an Irish-born man who currently resides in Canada, tweeted his belief that the ban is related to the upcoming U.S election.
YouTube’s move comes during a week where multiple tech companies have taken steps to crack down on hate speech on their platforms. Reddit has removed removed multiple subreddits, including the pro-Trump community “r/the_Donald,” for violating the companies hate speech polices and Twitch temporarily suspended president Trump’s account for a similar violation.