YouTube is introducing UK specific rules, and the Turkish media is furious that YouTube is not sensitive to Turkey’s sensitivities and concerns with regards to certain types of content available through YouTube. Other countries and governments will also start complaining following this new announcement. It is not easy to get the balance right with regards to what should be permissible or not but YouTube will be pressured to have more of these “customized community guidelines” for accessing its content.
[Note also The Guardian, YouTube bans violent videos, 12.09.2008]
· UK-specific rules follow glorification claims
· Website refuses to change way content is checked
Owen Gibson, media correspondent, The Guardian, Thursday September 18 2008
The Google-owned video sharing website YouTube has moved to counter criticism that it helps fuel gang violence by introducing new rules to ban submissions that glamorise guns and knives.
The UK-specific rule will ban videos ‘showing weapons with the aim of intimidation’ after criticism that fierce battles were being fuelled by rival members posting videos.
Last summer the Guardian revealed how videos on YouTube displayed the ‘barely concealed culture of violent gangs glorying in crime’ in the area of Liverpool where 11-year-old Rhys Jones was shot dead.
In July the culture, media and sport select committee criticised the website, on to which 10 hours of video are uploaded every minute, for not protecting users enough from the ‘dark side’ of internet content.
A Google spokesman said: ‘There has been particular concern over videos in the UK that involve showing weapons with the aim of intimidation, and this is one of the areas we are addressing.’
The move comes days after YouTube also introduced new global guidelines to outlaw content that ‘directly incites violence’. In a blog post to users late last week it said: ‘We realise it’s not always obvious where we draw the line on content that’s acceptable to upload. We’ve updated the community guidelines … included in the update are a few new things to steer clear of, like not directly inciting violence.’
Other existing rules relate to the posting of videos that show violence and include ‘hate speech’. But the new rules will not change the internet giant’s stance on the way content is regulated.
It is committed to a policy of user-moderation, arguing it is impractical for it to vet every video before it is posted. Once a video is flagged up as potentially inappropriate YouTube’s staff examine it and remove it if it breaks the guidelines.
The media select committee, chaired by John Whittingdale, the Tory MP for Maldon and East Chelmsford, had called on video sharing sites to undertake a ‘proactive review of content’ to ‘quarantine’ material until it was deemed suitable to be posted.
But Google said such an approach was impractical. ‘YouTube is a community site used by millions of people in very positive ways. Sadly, as with any form of communication, a tiny minority of people will try to break the rules,’ said a spokesman.
‘When users see content they think is inappropriate they can flag it. If the content breaks our terms we aim to remove it quickly and if a user repeatedly breaks the rules we will disable their account.’
The site, bought by Google for $1.65bn (£92m) in 2006 just 18 months after it launched, has faced consistent criticism on both sides of the Atlantic over some of the videos posted by its huge user base.
As well as unsuitable or offensive videos, copyright holders have complained that their material is being posted without their permission. The media giant Viacom and the English Premier League are among those who have launched legal action against what they see as copyright infringement on a grand scale.
Here too, YouTube argues that it takes videos down as soon as they are flagged up by copyright holders.