Why begging Google to be more careful won't solve the "Ads on Hate Speech Video" issues

By | May 9, 2017

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.

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8 thoughts on “Why begging Google to be more careful won't solve the "Ads on Hate Speech Video" issues

  1. nustada

    Instead of trying to moderate it and be gatekeepers, why don't they just let advertisers pick key words or maturity rating they want to avoid?

    My guess is they have some bigots in charge who are more interested in suppressing speech they don't like, and are using extreme cases that no one agrees with as an excuse.

  2. Da Boo

    Google has acquired it's billions so it shouldn't allow any share holders to exist anymore and they should cut all ads. We the god damn people are sick and tired of the man made laws and we do not want them anymore. PEOPLE are waking up and they know that all ads are being absorbed into the subconscious and they are causing damage to our thought and belief process. If google doesn't STOP ALL ads soon then google will have no choice but to fold and WE the true creators of everything that exists will come up with a different way to be in touch with each other.


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