Thursday, October 12, 2006

Michelle Malkin Censored...

Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin is up in arms because she claims that she posted a YouTube video criticizing militant Islam, and apparently, YouTube removed the video claiming it was offensive and violated its terms of use agreement.

How rampant is YouTube censorship, and who gets to decide which videos are "offensive"? Malkin references one theory that the site flags videos as "offensive" if a large enough number of users report it as such — and that Muslim groups are "gaming the system, rallying their members to flag videos that criticize aspects of Islam".

There is a big difference between strongly-held political views and unacceptably offensive content, though that distinction is often up to the eye of the beholder. YouTube would best serve the public interest by not censoring its user-generated content (and at the very least, not censor it based on its current moderation system). As blogger Riding Sun puts it, YouTube "shouldn't be in the viewpoint-regulation business. As is often said, the best response to offensive speech is more speech, not censorship."

Yes, YouTube is a private company which means that it ultimately gets to decide what to do with material on its website. But there is already a ton of content on the site which I'm sure many people would consider "offensive". They really ought to avoid the whole headache and stay out of the censorship business entirely.


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