On Wednesday, YouTube announced a sweeping ban on all content it deems "hateful" or "supremacist," resulting in a reported "thousands" of channels being shut down. The announcement came the same day that YouTube demonetized conservative comedian Steven Crowder — one of the most popular independent content creators on the platform — after a writer for Vox complained that he had repeatedly mocked him for his identity.
"YouTube has always had rules of the road, including a longstanding policy against hate speech," the company announced Wednesday in a statement. "Today, we're taking another step in our hate speech policy by specifically prohibiting videos 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."
The company noted that the enforcement of its mass ban on "hate speech" will take a while to fully implement. "We will begin enforcing this updated policy today; however, it will take time for our systems to fully ramp up and we'll be gradually expanding coverage over the next several months," said YouTube.
The outright ban of those the company says has promoted content it believes "discriminatory" in any way follows another announcement earlier this year that it would demonetize channels that "repeatedly brush up against our hate speech policies" by barring them from working with the YouTube Partner ad program.
The company has specifically stressed that it will take aim at content it deems to be "white supremacist" or "white nationalist," AFP notes. "The move comes after a call by world leaders in Paris last month to curb extremism online, following revelations about the livestreaming of a mosque massacre in New Zealand."
But conservatives have noted a pattern by YouTube, along with other dominate social media platforms, of focusing mostly on voices from the right —and often lumping in mainstream conservatives with the far-right. Among those blasting YouTube over ideological bias is outspoken conservative Dana Loesch, who declared the progressives pushing for deplatforming as "the modern day book burners."
"Progressives/socialists are the modern day book burners," she tweeted Wednesday in a thread noted by Twitchy. "Everything they dislike must be silenced, any challenge to their thought banished, be it with deplatforming, milkshakes, or burning buildings. Speech must be all hive-mind. It’s at level ridiculous. Yet these are the folks that actually accuse the people they’re trying to silence of narrow-mindedness. Newsflash: We aren’t the ones pushing to deplatform and demonetize all speech with which we disagree."
Among the voices being targeted by YouTube is Steven Crowder, who was demonetized on Wednesday, a day after the company said he had not violated its conduct code.
"Our teams spent the last few days conducting an in-depth review of the videos flagged to us, and while we found language that was clearly hurtful, the videos as posted don’t violate our policies," YouTube said Tuesday in reference to videos flagged as "harassment" by Vox's Carlos Maza. "...As an open platform, it’s crucial for us to allow everyone–from creators to journalists to late-night TV hosts–to express their opinions w/in the scope of our policies. Opinions can be deeply offensive, but if they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site."
After Maza complained again, and with The Washington Post and other left-leaning outlets adding their weight, YouTube reversed itself and barred Crowder from earning money from his videos citing the supposed "widespread harm" his content has done to the YouTube community. The decision has been widely condemned by conservatives, including Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro, who has been hammering Vox and YouTube online.
"YouTube's statement on [Steven Crowder]: OK, we admit he didn't violate our standards, but people were mad at us, so we just backfilled a rationale for demonetizing him with Orwellian doublespeak," Shapiro tweeted Wednesday. "This is essentially YouTube admitting that they exercised the heckler's veto. They can't point to how [Crowder] broke their rules, so they just made up new rules based on the fact that a bunch of people whined to them."
"If YouTube is now going to police insulting speech -- not violent speech, not incitement, not actual fake news -- because a virulently censorious, radical activist masquerading as a journalist complains about being insulted, they're a joke," wrote Shapiro.