New Report Claims YouTube Profits From Misogyny, Racism and Targeted Harassment – ​​Rolling Stone

On YouTube, engagement is king. The platform, which thrives on its dual status as a social media network and news space, generously compensates creators for making videos that get large amounts of views and interactions from viewers. a given audience. To stave off the worst, the influx of content is moderated by a series of community guidelines intended to “make YouTube a safer community” while giving freedom to creators, according to the site.

But a new investigation by research firm Bot Sentinel has found that at least two dozen YouTube channels with “flagrant” policy violations have been allowed to continue publishing without censorship from YouTube moderators. Even more alarming: they still get paid.

In an exclusive interview, the founder of Bot Sentinel, Christopher Bouzy, tells rolling stone that the report revealed a pattern of unchecked hate speech, misogyny, racism and targeted harassment singularly focused on famous and identifiable women. The most mentioned women in the channels were Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and actress Amber Heard, who both remained extremely vocal about the long-term mental and emotional effects of targeted harassment. In a review of just five single-purpose hate channels focused entirely on Markle, Bot Sentinel estimated that the channels received a total of $42,000 in monthly payments. Since all videos are served with ads, it is understood that YouTube also receives a share of the profits.

“YouTube is to blame”, says Bouzy rolling stone. “A lot of these people wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing if YouTube wasn’t rewarding them. And let’s be clear here, they are rewarding them. When you allow these people to monetize that content and you’re the company paying them, at the end of the day, you’re pretty much facilitating the harassment, the vitriol that we’re seeing right now.

Reached for comment, a YouTube spokesperson, who has not seen the report, said the site takes these types of violations seriously: “We are committed to rigorously applying these policies equally for all creators. , and encourage any user to report content that they believe violates our Community Guidelines.”

Under Youtube’s current community guidelines, the site prohibits “malicious insults” that focus on famous or identifiable people or are based on people’s appearance or status (such as race or being a domestic violence survivor) . But according to the report, channels that focus their content on Markle and Heard’s reactions and opinions are often allowed to post defamatory content without any scrutiny. Others use deceptive practices, such as including thumbnails that don’t match the content of a video in order to evade moderators. According to the report, these channels don’t fly under the radar — they’re commonplace.

According to the report, at least 29 YouTube channels have been authorized to monetize content containing harmful, defamatory and threatening language towards Markle. An additional 22 channels posted at least 30,000 videos which accounted for 80% of all negative anti-Meghan headlines on YouTube, such as “Booed At Buckingkham! Meg chuckled with rage as the mourners yelled the loudest BOOED Meg BACK as the Queen is dead” and “SHE IS NOT WELCOME! Meghan CAN’T HIDE DESPAIR over ABSENCE in Scotland after QUEEN’S DEATH REPORT.

Single-purpose hate channels, focused solely on anti-Markle sentiments, mentioned negative and defamatory remarks towards Markle in 94% of all their content. According to the report, three of the major producing channels mention Markle’s name at least 15,000 times in videos that have received a combined 76 million views. By comparison, Bouzy says Catherine the Princess of Wales is mentioned less than 3,000 times in videos discussing the Royal Family and most of the references are “overwhelmingly positive”.

Taking advantage of the public’s morbid fascination with the Johnny Deep trial, a creator made over 128 videos making hurtful comments about Heard’s body and defamatory allegations about his trial testimony. In the videos, Heard’s name was mentioned more than six thousand times, according to the report. Another YouTuber continually posts threats that contravene Markle and has yet to be removed from the site. In a livestream video, the YouTuber expressed his belief that Markle deserved to be ‘strangled to death’ and said as recently as Monday that Markle and her husband Prince Harry should be ‘shot by dawn’ . Bouzy tells rolling stone that he personally reported the videos multiple times to YouTube and someone from Google, but the videos remained online. Less than an hour after a request for comment on several specific videos, YouTube removed at least two videos for violating the site’s harassment and bullying policy.

“After review, we have removed two videos shared by rolling stone for violating our harassment and cyberbullying policies, which prohibit targeting an individual with prolonged, malicious threats or insults based on protected attributes,” the YouTube spokesperson said, adding that they were still reviewing two additional videos flagged by rolling stone and said they would take “appropriate action” if content violates community guidelines.

The report also detailed what it called “glaring instances” of copyright infringement and plagiarism from anti-Markle and Royal family-focused YouTube channels. According to the report, at least 22 channels have published thousands of videos made by converting news articles into audio with text-to-speech tools. The majority of the 34,000 videos did not credit the articles or news outlets they were taken from. The videos have received over 441 million views.

Why should this matter to the average person? According to Bouzy, a lack of Youtube content moderation tracking only puts the average person at risk. In addition to these videos pushing a narrative of racism and misogyny that could distort a viewer’s worldview, Bouzy believes that unchecked policies mean a greater likelihood of targeted harassment towards all people, such as journalists or individuals. . In publishing the report, Bouzy recounts rolling stone that he is not trying to target freedom of expression. He just wants Youtube to enforce its own policies.

“I think a platform as big as YouTube with billions of views, they now have a responsibility,” Bouzy says. “You know, it’s not 1999. It’s not the beginning of the Internet. Many people consume their news on these platforms. And whether it’s YouTube or Twitter or Facebook, they now have a responsibility to protect their users from some of this toxic stuff that’s been out there. And if they don’t want to, we need legislation to push them in that direction.

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