For better or worse, the digital age has allowed anyone with an iPhone or a high-speed Internet connection to express their thoughts, opinions or share their abysmal music to millions of people throughout the world. It’s also provided the same opportunity for racists, homophobes and elected officials to assail our peace of mind with their inflammatory bullshit.
In its quest to thwart “hatred and violence,” Facebook banned a number of high profile individuals—including the “dangerous” Louis Farrakhan and Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones—while Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey met with one of Islamophobia’s biggest purveyors and did a whole lot of not a damn thing despite Trump trying his damndest to ruin Rep. Ilhan Omar’s life.
No longer willing to be seen as complicit in the discriminatory content saturating its platform, the Verge reports that YouTube is beefing up its community guidelines to prohibit “videos promoting the superiority of any group as a justification for discrimination against others based on their age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.” So we can finally kiss thousands of channels promoting white nationalism and other dreck goodbye.
“The openness of YouTube’s platform has helped creativity and access to information thrive. It’s our responsibility to protect that, and prevent our platform from being used to incite hatred, harassment, discrimination and violence,” the company wrote on their blog. “We are committed to taking the steps needed to live up to this responsibility today, tomorrow and in the years to come.”
Here are the three ways that YouTube will attempt to “tackle hate”:
- Removal of hateful and supremacist content from YouTube - Content that is inherently discriminatory on the basis of age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status is prohibited. As is content denying “well-documented violent events” such as mass shootings or the Holocaust.
- Reducing borderline content and harmful misinformation by raising up authoritative voices - YouTube is brimming with content that’s highly questionable, but doesn’t quite violate their community guidelines—like flat-earthers or other conspiracy theorists. So to curb the popularity of these videos, YouTube will instead recommend videos from more “authoritative sources” such as established news channels in its “next watch” panel.
- Continuing to reward trusted creators and enforce our monetization policies - Channels that “repeatedly brush up against” YouTube’s hate speech policies are subject to monetization restrictions. They will no longer be able to run ads or use SuperChat, which allows channel subscribers to purchase extra chat features. This change is of particular interest since SuperChat previously creators to circumvent community guidelines in order to monetize hateful content.
Color of Change President Rashad Robinson issued the following statement to The Root in response to these changes:
“The announcement of this policy, just days after being called out for their continued inaction, underscores YouTube’s flawed approach to handling the growth of white nationalism on its platform: as a public relations crisis first and an operational priority second. A policy that attempts to ban hateful content is only as effective as the mechanisms implemented to enforce such rules. If executed poorly, this policy could contribute to even more harm for Black communities and other communities targeted by white supremacist ideologies. […] This policy announcement, while a step forward, is only the first step.”
These changes go into effect on Wednesday.