Perhaps you remember the waves of advertiser boycotts of YouTube for posting ads on videos with hate speech, followed by considerable online discussion on how big social media companies are evil and should be held liable somehow.
The problem here is that YouTube's hands are bound: They are a content hosting platform, and as such, following the law, there are two ways in which they can deal with offending content:
(1) proactively screen content – in this case, YouTube takes on the ownership for the content it hosts and can't claim immunity from content liability issues – which also means that everyone who uploads a video must agree to pass on ownership of their works, or
(2) react to content only when users flag it – this is the status quo, where YouTube can claim that it doesn't own the offending content and is off the hook for content liability – and everyone who uploads a video retains complete ownership of their works.
From a business perspective, obviously (2) would make the better choice – that is, unless revenues drop as a result, which just happened. But to what extent would the majority of harmless, revenue-generating videos and commercial users agree to hand over ownership rights, at least to a partial extent? Not very likely.
To get out of this deadlock, we need to reassess the role and expectations on communications platforms from a legislative standpoint. Technology has moved on to the point where automatic screening is affordable and mostly accurate, but the laws were created under the assumption that screening required a manual, time-consuming and expensive process that no one could afford. Permitting automated screening under the "intermediary communications platform", of course only to the extent necessary so that we don't end up with a privatized mass surveillance system, looks like it might not be so bad of a choice after all.
Google Exec Apologizes for YouTube Ads Run Against Hate Speech, Terrorist Videos After U.K. Backlash
A senior Google executive on Monday apologized for ads that have run in YouTube content that espouses terrorism and other extremist views, vowing that the internet company will be taking new steps …