Wednesday, September 26, 2012

You Tube Punts on Second and 3 Yards

An item came across my LinkedIn page yesterday, posted by someone who (rightly) thought the You Tube item (showing two Wall Street dudes fighting over a cab) was hilarious. Well, who could fail to watch that? Certainly not me, so I hit the link. A message came up, instead of the video.

This video has been removed because it violated You Tube’s Terms of Service.

I thought that was kind of weird and would have merely shrugged it off and gone on to other things, except for the fact that You Tube has continually refused to remove the now famous anti-Islam video that caused another blowout in the Middle East, not incidently, killing our Ambassador to Libya.
That seems to me to be far more important stuff than some Wall Street broker’s embarrassment at being caught in a cat-fight over access to a cab. It’s pure conjecture on my part, but You Tube certainly didn’t pull that video of its own accord. One of the hotshots involved (or their firm) must have got on the phone double-quick and had it pulled.

No such luck for the anti-Islam video (or the murdered American Ambassador). A quick punt with 3 yards to go for a first down—the only difference being that when you make a stupid play in a football game, no one dies. Embassies do not burn. Riots do not ensue.

Anyway, that made me look up You Tube’s Terms of Service and it’s the usual legal blather that protects Google and You Tube from almost everything, but the public from very little—which is okay by me, I agree that a certain amount of discretion on the part of anyone watching videos is their own responsibility. One has to get all the way down to paragraph 6, item E, to find this mild reference to the kind of allowable content that informs this article and here it is:
E. You further agree that you will not submit to the Service any Content or other material that is contrary to the YouTube Community Guidelines, currently found at, which may be updated from time to time, or contrary to applicable local, national, and international laws and regulations.

Hmm. Good as far as it goes. So, just what are ‘community guidelines?’ This is one of the paragraphs covering that:
We encourage free speech and defend everyone's right to express unpopular points of view. But we don't permit hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity).

If the anti-Islam video doesn’t fit You Tube’s definition of ‘demeans,’ or doesn’t come under the definition of ‘hate speech,’ then I can’t possibly think of an alternative to make it more clear. Yet the band played on and an actress in the video, by the name of Garcia, went to court to try and get the video pulled because she’s received personal death threats and is apparently mortified at her part in an international disaster. Gavel rapped, request denied.

[1]YouTube, which is owned by Google, has refused requests to remove the film by both Garcia and the White House. However, the company has blocked users in Saudi Arabia, Libya and Egypt from viewing the clip, as well as Indonesia and India, because it violates laws in those countries.

Timothy Alger, the lawyer representing Google at Thursday's hearing, said the Internet company shouldn't be responsible for what transpired between Garcia and the filmmakers. He said no matter how someone views the content "it is something of widespread debate."

Right-on, Tim. It’s hard to think of a more ‘widespread debate’ than dozens dead, embassies under siege and a Pakistani cabinet minister offering $100,000 to anyone who kills the filmmaker. Yet You Tube still hasn’t pulled the video (today it showed 17 million views). The White House and an actress in the film are unable to get the video pulled and yet it is entirely within You Tube’s power to do so. They reserve the right to decide. Back to the Terms of Service:
Paragraph 7, item B:
YouTube reserves the right to decide whether Content violates these Terms of Service for reasons other than copyright infringement, such as, but not limited to, pornography, obscenity, or excessive length. YouTube may at any time, without prior notice and in its sole discretion, remove such Content and/or terminate a user's account for submitting such material in violation of these Terms of Service.

So one video goes on and on under the terms of ‘freedom of speech’ (it’s still up as I write this) and the other gets yanked in a heartbeat, ludicrously by sole discretion.

Maybe the White House should give Wall Street a call.

[1] CBC News,  The Associated Press, Sep 20, 2012

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