YouTube has suspended advertising for a creator accused of online abuse, after the site was criticised for how it responded to the harassment complaint.
The online video giant has been repeatedly associated with controversies surrounding inappropriate content and this week announced a new clampdown on hate speech and misinformation. At the same time, though, it has also been criticised by its community for the way it handed an accusation of homophobic abuse.
The accusation came from journalist Carlos Maza, who presents a series called Strikethrough for news site Vox. He says that whenever he publishes a video, another video is posted by a rival vlogger, Steven Crowder, which purports to debunk Maza’s video and includes insulting language about Maza’s sexuality.
Maza responded by publishing a compilation video and asked YouTube to intervene. The site, however, said that it’s investigation didn’t find the videos violated its policies. After that action was criticised for not being severe or serious enough, YouTube has since decided to freeze any advertising revenue for Crowder’s account.
“One of the most important issues we face is around harassment. We enforce our policies here rigorously and regardless of the creator in question,” said YouTube’s Chris Dale in a statement. “In the first quarter of 2019, we removed tens of thousands of videos and accounts for violation of our policies on cyberbullying and harassment. We also removed hundreds of millions of comments, many of which were flagged and removed due to harassment.”
However, it acknowledged that its policies “need to keep up with current problems”, including “creator-on-creator harassment”.
For harassment, YouTube looks at whether the purpose of the video is to incite harassment, threaten or humiliate an individual; or whether personal information is revealed.
“We consider the entire video,” says Dale. “For example, is it a two-minute video dedicated to going after an individual? A 30-minute video of political speech where different individuals are called out a handful of times? Is it focused on a public or private figure?”
For hate speech, YouTube looks at whether the primary purpose of the video is to incite hatred toward or promote supremacism over a protected group; or whether it seeks to incite violence.
“In the case of Crowder’s channel, a thorough review over the weekend found that individually, the flagged videos did not violate our Community Guidelines. However, in the subsequent days, we saw the widespread harm to the YouTube community resulting from the ongoing pattern of egregious behavior, took a deeper look, and made the decision to suspend monetisation,” concluded the statement. “In order to be considered for reinstatement, all relevant issues with the channel need to be addressed, including any videos that violate our policies, as well as things like offensive merchandise.”