The crackdown cometh

Google is amping up and automating its YouTube crackdown:

Starting on Thursday, Google will police YouTube like it never has before, adding warnings and disabling advertising on videos that the company determines crosses its new threshold for offensive content.

YouTube isn’t removing the selected videos, but is instead setting new restrictions on viewing, sharing and making money on them. A note detailing the changes will go to producers of the affected videos on Thursday, according to a spokeswoman for the Alphabet Inc. company.

Google outlined these moves in June, but the implementation comes as debate about extremism and political speech is front-and-center in the national spotlight — and when tech giants like Google and Facebook Inc. face deeper scrutiny over how they moderate information distributed through their digital services.

“These videos will have less engagement and be harder to find,” Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel, wrote about the plans in a June blog post. “This strikes the right balance between free expression and access to information without promoting extremely offensive viewpoints.” A Google spokeswoman declined to comment further on the changes.

The new restrictions, which target what Walker called “inflammatory religious or supremacist content,” are expected to hit a small fraction of videos, according to person familiar with the company. YouTube says it uploads over 400 hours of video a minute. Videos tagged by its new policy won’t be able to run ads or have comments posted, and won’t appear in any recommended lists on the video site. A warning screen will also appear before the videos, which will not be able to play when embedded on external websites.

I’ve already seen reports that videos that even contain the word “SJW” in the video, not merely in the title or description, have been demonetized. So, it’s not exactly hard to know which elements within Google are behind this.

So far, the saner elements are not prevailing.

This will, of course, have precisely zero effect on our plans for Voxiversity. We anticipated this and more.