YouTube’s Censorship of Content Creators
Over the last few years, YouTube’s platform has expanded and changed in ways the company likely didn’t expect during its creation in 2005. With the growth of the website in terms of number of users and modes of usage, YouTube must continuously adapt so it caters to its users while upholding its own company guidelines.
It is often difficult for creators to generate content that complies with all of Youtube’s strict set of rules and this can often cause controversy between the biggest content creators and the platform’s owners. The most recent change that YouTube has made to its site interface has been the mass disabling of comments on certain channels that feature a large number of minors. YouTube claims that they’ve made this major change to these accounts due to the fact that there is a large influx of predatory comments on accounts that heavily feature children. This has been an ongoing problem for years that has been raised to YouTube’s attention, and sometimes to the attention of the authorities. Millions of videos across the platform have had their comment section shut down, with most YouTube users, and consumers, saying that this massive change is “anti-creator.” One of the accounts that fell victim to this involuntary comment blocking is Special Books by Special Kids, an account created and run by Something Ulmer.
Special Books by Special Kids is a YouTube channel which features an assortment of children from all over the world with different lives and backgrounds. The channel gives them a chance to share their intricate and special stories. Since 2016, this page has been run by YouTuber Chris Ulmer and his partner Alyssa Porter who have gone around the world making videos, attempting to exemplify the diversity of the human condition. Due to the fact that their channel heavily features children, they were a victim of the mass disabling of comments. But for this channel, it appears to be a special, and more complex case than it has been for most channels and videos. Ulmer and Porter have publicly spoken out and said that YouTube’s new policy is actually a discriminatory one, which only silences smaller channels and allows larger channels to thrive.
Ulmer and Porter shared a video that went viral with the title “YouTube’s Discriminatory New Policies are Destroying our Mission of Inclusion (We Need Your Help).” In this video, they described their situation, detailing how the comments section is an irreplaceable way to offer support and connection between the YouTube community, the creators, and the kids in their videos, as well as a way to show many people that they are not alone in their situations. Furthermore, they have never experienced predatory comments on their account, nor has anything in the past been flagged with that type of comment. They went further in their video calling out YouTube for a more insidious agenda, saying that they are targeting certain channels as some channels that are larger and have corporate sponsors backing them have not had comments disabled even though their content is typically more prone to predatory comments. Another large channel that is owned by a major corporation, Barcroft TV, which has interviewed many of the same kids that Special Books by Special Kids had, did not have the same mass disabling of comment on their videos. This presents itself as a blatant oversight by YouTube. Special Books by Special Kids only represents a portion of the larger problem that exists in YouTube’s corporation and across the creator community. As of today, Special Books by Special Kids still have their comments disabled.
This is undoubtedly a difficult situation all around, for YouTube, content creators, and viewers. YouTube does have a duty to stop the predatory comments on their platform, but it should not implement the policy in a way that supports the big corporations while leaving the smaller, or non-profit, YouTube channels at the will of an ambiguous set of standards. Channels such as Special Books by Special Kids should continue to speak out against these discriminatory processes and force YouTube to acknowledge and explain their actions.
Image Source: Special Books by Special Kids post on Facebook