On Wednesday, one day after they stated that the videos of comedian Steven Crowder did not violate their policies, YouTube suddenly shifted and decided to demonetize Crowder’s videos, a chilling decision that engendered fierce criticism from defenders of free speech. YouTube was prompted to take a look at Crowder’s videos by Vox’s Carlos Maza, who reported the comedian for making jokes about his ethnicity and sexuality.
That prompted YouTube to respond on Tuesday:
Thanks again for taking the time to share all of this information with us. We take allegations of harassment very seriously–we know this is important and impacts a lot of people. 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. We’ve included more info below to explain this decision: 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.Even if a video remains on our site, it doesn’t mean we endorse/support that viewpoint. There are other aspects of the channel that we’re still evaluating– we’ll be in touch with any further updates.
But then, on Wednesday morning, this shift: “Update on our continued review–we have suspended this channel’s monetization. We came to this decision because a pattern of egregious actions has harmed the broader community and is against our YouTube Partner Program policies.”
After YouTube stated Crowder would have to remove the links to his T-shirts, they decided to look at his whole channel, saying, “Sorry for the confusion, we were responding to your tweets about the T-shirts. Again, this channel is demonetized due to continued egregious actions that have harmed the broader community. To be reinstated, he will need to address all of the issues with his channel.”
The Washington Post was unhappy with YouTube initially avoiding punishing Crowder, tweeting, “A right-wing YouTuber hurled racist, homophobic taunts at a gay reporter. The company did nothing.”
Maza doesn’t seem to have a problem encouraging assault on people he disagrees with:
Free speech advocates were furious with YouTube’s decision:
Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro: “Okay, if this is the game now, let’s play. This nonsense works both ways. Please explain why it doesn’t harm the broader @YouTube community when Samantha Bee calls Ivanka Trump a ‘feckless c***,’ when Colbert calls Trump a ‘c*** holster’ for Vladimir Putin.”
There were others:
Crowder had his own response: