Sunday, February 26, 2017

As YouTube Hinders Publication of UN Q&As, Censorship by Google Algorithm, UNappealable

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 26 – With the large social media platforms like Google and Facebook vowing to use algorithms to prevent terrorist recruitment and for other purposes, the crudeness of results, intended or not, has come to the fore. Like many independent media, Inner City Press publishes its coverage and associated commentary not only on its website but on a number of third party platforms like YouTube,TwitterFacebookScribd and SoundCloud. YouTube is owned by Google, and like its parent allows publishes to monetize their material with advertisements.

But do YouTube and Google behind it engage in censorship? This week, as Inner City Press ramps up its fight against the eviction of its shared office in the United Nations while asking questions about UN corruption and incompetence, including in Yemen and Syria, it has received a series of e-mails from YouTube that its videos on these topics "cannot be monetized" with advertisements.

   The emails said “We didn't approve your video(s) for monetization because the content in your video(s) or video details may not be advertiser-friendly.... Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown... We depend on our user community to flag inappropriate videos to us for our review.”
  Even after appeal, videos whose titles including the word "Nusra" for example are deemed ineligible for monetization.

  But they are video of questions and answers (sometimes) at the UN, of protests in the streets of New York, etc. Inner City Press has written,  to Monetization then to Press [at]

“The videos you are saying are “not advertiser-friendly” are videos of media questions and answers with United Nations spokespeople and diplomats. They are news. The message sent yesterday and today said “you can request an additional review below” - this is a request for review. Look at the videos: they are Q&As in the UN Press Briefing Room.

This is also a request to be informed if it was any complaint to YouTube / Google which triggered this denial of monetization, and if so if it came from the UN or any[one else.]
I note that Reuters, got one of its anti-Press emails to the UN banned from Google Search with a frivolous DMCA filing: [HRW]

Please confirm receipt and review the above and restore monetization, answering the question. Google and YouTube should not be involved in any form of censorship, including the denial of monetization of news footage."
   Now on February 26, YouTube has sent this: 
"Hi Inner City Press, After reviewing your video, we’ve confirmed that the content in your video or video details aren’t advertiser-friendly. As a result, your video can’t be monetized.

"In Golan After UN Peacekeepers Hand Over Guns to Nusra, UN Won't Say If Ladsous Ordered It"

YouTube reserves the right to make the final decision about video monetization."

  So, like at the UN on unilateral decisions to target, evict and restrict particular media, and like some decisions by Twitter to which we will next turn, there is no appeal. (UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who has bragged about the UN's "use" of YouTube, ran out when Inner City Press asked about this, here.) This is UNacceptable. We'll have more on this.