This article originally appeared on VICE CA.
YouTube announced it will ban Holocaust denial videos and other content that tries to deny otherwise proven events, in a significant revamp of its hate speech and misleading content policies.
The platform will also be "specifically prohibiting videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination," and will delete Nazi videos, it said in a blog post Wednesday. It will “remove content denying that well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, took place.“ The enforcement of these changes will take place later today, the platform said but said it will take several months for it to come fully into play.
These changes come after YouTube faced immense scrutiny over the treatment of Vox journalist Carlos Maza by Steven Crowder, a right-wing YouTuber. Last week, Maza posted on Twitter that for over two years he has been receiving harassment from Crowder in which the YouTuber called him “an angry little queer,” “gay Mexican,” “gay Latino from Vox” among other things. Crowder would also routinely use a voice mocking the homosexual community when impersonating Maza.
When Crowder would make a video regarding Maza, which he did routinely, his fans would swarm the journalist. This includes his phone number being leaked at one point and being inundated with texts saying “debate Steven Crowder.” This swarming has only become worse since Maza came public with the harassment.
On Tuesday, YouTube informed Maza that, after an “in-depth review” the videos he flagged to them didn’t violate their policies. In a tweet to Maza, the company wrote “opinions can be deeply offensive, but if they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site.” Maza was critical of this decision and quick to point out that it coming out during Pride Month only goes to further the company's hypocrisy saying "they really, really don’t care."
Maza said that he has reservations regarding YouTube actually enforcing these new policies.
“YouTube isn’t interested in stopping abuse, it’s interested into tricking reporters and advertisers into believing that it gives a shit about stopping abuse,” he said. “YouTube gives these monsters a platform, sends millions of new recruits their way, and then refuses to take action when they get too big.”
YouTube told VICE these changes have been in the works for months and weren’t connected to the situation between Maza and Crowder.
YouTube also said it's attempting to reduce the recommendation of videos that come “right up to the line” but stop just short of being banned. In January, the company piloted a program in the US that attempted to reduce the recommendation of videos that come “right up to the line” but stop just short of being banned. The recommendation system used by Youtube has long been criticized as being a rabbit hole that leads to more extreme videos and can have a radicalizing effect on both viewers and creators.
“This change relies on a combination of machine learning and real people,” reads the blog post. “We work with human evaluators and experts from all over the United States to help train the machine learning systems that generate recommendations.”
YouTube said “the number of views this type of content gets from recommendations has dropped by over 50 percent in the U.S” and that the platform is hoping to bring the system to other countries before the end of the year. The company also said that channels that toe the line of hate speech but don’t explicitly cross the line will face monetization penalties like not being able to run ads or use the Superchat feature.
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