While we in no way condone the actions of Nasim Aghdam at YouTube’s headquarters, her “rationale” was something many of us can relate to and the inherent inconsistent biases at the company have been made public in a very unfortunate way.
In a video posted in January 2017, she says YouTube “discriminated and filtered” her content. In the video, Aghdam says her channel used to get lots of views but that after being “filtered” by the company, it received far fewer views. In one online rant, she complained that YouTube censored her content by imposing an age restriction on one of her workout videos because they were too racy. She says the company failed to do the same thing for stars like Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj, whose videos, she says, are inappropriate for children.
— NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit, 4/3/18
Consistency has been an ongoing theme in our commentary over the years, and it comes down to that ol’ adage we heard from the first grade on, “If you do it for one, you have to do it for everybody.”
On the website and in YouTube videos, Ms. Aghdam discussed Persian culture, veganism and animal cruelty, performed music parodies and gave exercise tutorials. She had YouTube pages in Persian, Turkish and English. Her personal website included graphic photos of slaughtered animals and pleas not to wear fur jackets or have sex outside of marriage.
— New York Times, 4/4/18
In less than a couple of minutes, anyone can find content a whole lot more offensive than that on YouTube.
We, like possibly hundreds (if not more) of others, have had YouTube videos demonetized, if not removed, for various reasons that at times appears selective. Such demonetization of videos can be devastating to those who rely on the rewards for the popularity of their creations. Granted, there are rules regarding the outright theft of the work of others, but when you’re using copyrighted videos, giving proper attribution, and using them for the purpose of “commentary, education, and criticism” as covered by the Fair Use clause of the Copyright Act of 1976, then the proper leeway should be observed.
And while YouTube is a private company and can basically impose whatever rules they want on their customers, one would hope they would be fair, especially when it came to political discussion. It clearly would not be, especially when YouTube became an official arm of Google.
According to a February 2005 USA Today article on the subject:
“As it claws for greater power, the Democratic Party has found a newly rich ally in one of the fastest—growing U.S. companies: Google.”
The article stated that of the over $200,000 Google employees gave to federal candidates in 2004, ‘98% went to Democrats, the biggest share among top tech donors.’ And, with a largely successful public stock offering making ‘scores of millionaires among [Google’s] 3,000 workers.
Google has become the single largest private corporate underwriter of MoveOn. According to sources in the Democrat National Committee, MoveOn has received more than $1 million from Google and its lobbyists in Washington to create grassroots support for the Internet regulation legislation [‘Net Neutrality’]. Some of that money has gone to an online petition drive and a letter-writing campaign, but the majority of that money is being used to fund their activities against Republicans out in the states.
— Noel Sheppard and Marc Sheppard, 10/16/06
While some of our videos (which are unabashedly conservative) have been targeted or removed by YouTube for “copyright infringement” or a violation of their “community standards”, it doesn’t take long to find soft pornography, violent or profanity-laden videos, readily-available on YouTube. You can also easily find entire albums of bands on YouTube with hundreds of thousands of views, monetized with ads and have been there for years, despite the supposed monitoring for blatant copyright infringement. You can easily find so-called “music” videos that would have to be blurred or bleeped for airing on national television, uploaded by influential entertainment industry companies that children can view, but a video criticizing a former Democrat president could be flagged for hate speech; a flagging process that can be initiated by ONE butthurt liberal who, like many, would much rather shut down speech instead of engage it.
We don’t know if YouTube has too much overhead, including employees and all the costs associated, but it appeared earlier this year they decided to tighten their belt at the expense of their customers.
The company sent a platform-wide email on Tuesday night to give users 30-days’ notice about the site’s new eligibility requirements requiring users to reach a threshold of at least 4,000 hours of watchtime within the past 12 months and a minimum of 1,000 subscribers.
To put it in perspective, 50,000 full views on a single, five-minute video is equal to 4,166 hours — a small order for any decent-sized channel.
Users who fail to meet this threshold will lose complete access to monetization tools and features associated with the YouTube Partner Program next month, on Feb. 20. The terms serve as an effective termination for everyone on the platform who fails to meet the goal by then.
— Daily Caller, 1/17/18
Over the years, YouTube’s rules evolve affecting hundreds of thousands, if not millions of users. This is huge for people who are trying to get any kind of return on their most valuable, nonrenewable asset: their time.
She complained on her website that “new close-minded youtube employees” had “filtered my channels” starting in 2016, causing the number of views on her videos to decrease. She posted a screenshot of her YouTube page showing that one video had received 366,591 views but that she would receive an estimated $0.10 in advertising revenue from it.
“My revenue for 300,000 is $0.10?????” she wrote.
Again, we in no way condone violence and what happened Tuesday at YouTube was horrible.
That said, we understand the frustration when selective enforcement and/or the creation of unrealistic rules are imposed by a behemoth that is indifferent as they hold all the cards. Add personal bias that impacts the livelihood and you get a toxic mix that drove someone to a criminal act.
And after all the grief counseling for the traumatized at YouTube HQ, it will be business as usual.