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Sunday, December 19, 2010

PMW back up, plus YouTube's problematic practices (JPost op-ed)

It looks like PalWatch is back up on YouTube...thanks for everyone who helped by complaining to YouTube! (h/t Stablehand)

Here is an op-ed in Monday's  JPost by Andre Oboler about the recent suspension of Palestinian Media Watch's YouTube channel before it was reinstated:
A few months ago, efforts were made to shut down the YouTube presence of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). The institute provides the English-speaking world with insight into the Mideast media. Some of the exposure is not welcome by those who say one thing in English to a Western audience and another thing at home.

The MEMRI debacle seems to have been resolved, but YouTube is now going after Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) which fulfills a similar role, focused exclusively on the Palestinian media.

PMW monitors, translates and shares examples of incitement. It was PMW that exposed the use of a Mickey Mouse character inciting hate and violence on the Hamas TV children’s show “The Pioneers of Tomorrow.”

That story created shock waves around the world, leading to discussions in the Western mainstream media and at the UN of the link between incitement in the media and terrorism.

PMW’s violation appears to be that it was posting “hate material.”

There is no doubt that it was. However, like MEMRI, that material was not shared for the purpose of incitement, but to expose and counter the spread of hate. Some commentators have speculated that it is not the hate against Jews, Israelis and Americans – as shown in MEMRI and PMW videos – that is the problem, but rather the fact that the videos might cause a backlash against those promoting such hate.

Any argument that uses free speech to prevent the exposure of hate speech is inherently deeply flawed.

YouTube needs to get its act together.

What it has created is a haven for hate, devoid of sunlight. Its policy seems inconsistent, ineffective and only selectively enforced. It is working against community expectations and the public interest. Ignoring illegal content, while removing the very sunlight needed to expose those spreading hate, creates a volatile environment.

Social media is built on concepts of security and trust. When these start to go, opportunities for competitors are created. It may be too early to call this the beginning of the end for YouTube, but unless it gets its policies right, and properly enforces them, we may well see this megalith begin to slide downhill.