YouTube Has Quietly Begun “Censoring” Journalists

YouTube Has Quietly Begun “Censoring” Journalists Who Criticize Government

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Alice Salles via TheAntiMedia.org,

Earlier this month, YouTube, the behemoth video-sharing website was accused of censoring users.

Claiming some of their videos had been barred from making money through the company’s ad services, YouTube hosts like Philip DeFranco spoke out against the policy, claiming over “a dozen of his videos had been flagged as inappropriate for advertising, including one dinged for ‘graphic content or excessive strong language.’

In a video entitled “YouTube Is Shutting Down My Channel and I’m Not Sure What To Do,” DeFranco called YouTube’s policy “censorship with a different name,” since users touching on what the company considers to be controversial subjects end up losing money. “If you do this on the regular, and you have no advertising,” DeFranco added, “it’s not sustainable.”

While YouTube has already confirmed its policy regarding what it considers unfit for monetization hasn’t changed, the issue might lie elsewhere now that the company seems more efficient in enforcing its own rules. As a matter of fact, the content policy changed in 2012, when YouTube first introduced its “ad-friendly” guidelines.

But while an algorithm is allegedly used to spot and “de-monetize” videos that break the company’s rules, many continue to accuse the company, currently owned by Google, of having “vague” descriptions of what its leadership considers ad-friendly.

YouTube rolled out its monetization tool in 2006, when ads consisted of videos that would pop up at the bottom of the user’s screen. If the user did not click on it, it would roll for about ten seconds before going away. But as ad executives pressured YouTube to “to do a better job at promoting its creators,” the relationship with its advertisers changed. As better and even more intrusive ads were added to YouTube videos, the company allegedly became more concerned with the content.

Those who are affected often complain about copyright claims, but some complain about another type of targeting — one that involves power players.

YouTube Content Creators Speak Out

Derrick J. Freeman, the host of FR33MANTV, told Anti-Media that he monetizes all of his videos, and every day some video — even much older ones — gets slapped with some kind of warning or another because of music playing in the background somewhere. Usually a public place.”

While Freeman’s work is often political in nature, he hasn’t seen any of his videos being flagged for breaking YouTube’s rules concerning subjects related to war or political conflicts.

Mat Bars, another YouTube user, also complained about copyright claims.

Asked about the alleged censorship problem, Bars told Anti-Media that “what it really most likely comes down to is advertisers not wanting their ads to be associated with certain things.” To the YouTube host, the company is “mostly blameless in this. The site isn’t even profitable, so letting advertisers push them around like this suits their best interests.” Instead of complaining about censorship, Bars added that what affects him personally is “the copyright system.”

But to more radical political figures who gather a considerable number of followers on YouTube, things are slightly differently.

To Luke Rudkowski, the man behind the popular channel We Are Change, YouTube’s policy of nixing monetization on some of his most popular videos has been a problem for a long time.

For years,” he told The Anti-Media, “I have monetized and still get f*cked from it.” Especially, he continued, “[when I launch a video about] Hillary, or war and foreign policy.” When his videos touch on drugs or guns, however, he says ads remain in place.

 

When the videos only have ‘Hillary Clinton’ they do fine,” he added, “however, when we add ‘FBI’, that’s when YouTube” springs into action.

Anti-Media journalist and senior editor Carey Wedler got her start on Youtube and has had a similar experience with her channel.

She explained the first time she realized the site had singled out her videos was “a couple of weeks” after she “posted a video about how America’s culture of militarism is an underlying contributor to domestic mass shootings.”

She continued:

The video was released shortly after the Orlando shooting, which occurred in June. By July 6, I had received an email saying the video was not ‘advertiser friendly.’ Two days later, I received another email about a video I released at the beginning of June — before I released the mass shooting video. This video, which pointed out inconsistencies in Bernie Sanders’s record and questioned his ‘revolutionary’ status, was also stripped of monetization.”

While the mass shooting video’s monetization has been restored without her appealing the company’s decision, her Sanders video remains ineligible. The Sanders video focused largely on his record of supporting war and the military-industrial complex.

Her other videos affected by YouTube’s policy include “What Every American Needs to Know About Radical Islam,” a video “that challenged rampant Islamophobia and jingoism right after the Paris terror attacks last November,” and “Why I’m “Ready for Hillary!,” which the creator claims to be an “extremely sarcastic indictment of Hillary Clinton published before she announced her candidacy early last year.”

Other videos by Wedler that suffered the same fate include “How America ‘wins’ the wars in Syria & Iraq” and “How I became a “self-hating Jew.” All of the de-monetized videos contain anti-war sentiments.

According to the prolific writer and vlogger, YouTube only bothered to email her notifications regarding the changes in monetization for the Sanders and the mass shooting videos:

I noticed the [other] videos had all been stripped of monetization when I logged into Youtube to check out the two that had been officially flagged. However, when I checked my settings following receipt of the two emails regarding mass shootings and Bernie, my overall monetization setting had been switched off — meaning none of my videos were monetized.”

She claims to have “never selected that option” prior to learning about the issues with the videos mentioned previously, yet when she turned the monetization option back on, “the monetization reactivated — but only for videos that hadn’t been specifically flagged.”

“I also noticed that my videos before the self-hating Jew video hadn’t been rejected for monetization at all,”  she said.

In cases involving YouTube’s decision to flag her videos that included notifications, Wedler added, YouTube failed to give her “a specific reason as to why the videos were stripped of monetization. I’ve seen some screenshots of those emails from other Youtubers … and some contain reasons. Mine didn’t, though it’s pretty clear to me that in my case, it’s because they are considered ‘controversial.’ Some discuss war and some contain images of war, and they are always questioning military violence.”

While Wedler agrees that this type of policy is “not direct censorship … it does amount to an implicit attempt to discourage me and others from saying controversial things.”

She added that while YouTube is a “privately owned company that can decide which content is appropriate for its advertisers, … if they are deciding [which of] my videos shouldn’t be allowed to generate revenue, they are effectively removing much of my incentive to continue producing content on the platform.”

Despite the company’s policy, Wedler vows to continue making these videos simply because the message is what matters.

Google and Its Addiction to Buying Influence

As Wedler stated, YouTube is a private company and it has the right to set its own policies. But it’s undeniable that the site’s owner, Google, has, on a number of occasions, shown its favoritism through lobbying, prompting many to highlight the company’s appearance of favorable bias toward Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Google went from spending $80,000 on lobbying in 2003 to over $16 million in 2014. After 2014, Google, Inc. became Alphabet, and in 2015, Alphabet invested over $16 million in lobbying. To date, the company has spent over $8 million on Washington politicians.

Alphabet’s top recipient this election cycle is, unsurprisingly, Hillary Clinton.

But despite its knack for influence buying, Google has, over the years, created relationships with think tanks that would have criticized the tech giant’s crony capitalist ways under different circumstances.

According to the Washington Post, Google has embarked on a quest to woo free market organizations by populating “elite think-tanks such as the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the New America Foundation” with its fellows, including “young lawyers, writers and thinkers paid by the company.”

From the Post:

To critics, Google’s investments have effectively shifted the national discussion away from Internet policy questions that could affect the company’s business practices. Groups that might ordinarily challenge the policies and practices of a major corporation are holding their fire, those critics say.”

Claiming to be defenders of privacy, Google successfully waged an aggressive lobbying campaign within Washington to defeat a congressional effort that could have put Google in the middle of a very nasty antitrust fight.

After supporting the European Union’s antitrust prosecution of Microsoft, Google found itself the target of the same type of scrutiny, being accused of unfairly discriminating against users.

With the excuse of going after companies like Google for antitrust law violations, Congress came up with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill disguised as an anti-online piracy fix that would have allowed the federal government to targetillegal copies of films and other forms of media hosted on foreign servers.” The bill would have hurt Google the most because the search engine would have several results deleted from its database, requiringISPs to remove URLs from the Web, which is also known as censorship last time I checked,” Google chairman Eric Schmidt said.

Just one month before SOPA was unveiled by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Schmidt appeared before Congress during a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) hearing where a Republican senator “accused the company of skewing search results to benefit its own products and hurt competitors.” As this hearing took place and Google was grilled by lawmakers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Motion Picture Association of America lobbies pushed Congress to pass harsh anti-privacy legislation, accusing companies like Google of giving users access to pirated music and movies.

Afraid of the backlash caused by the hearing, Google feared the Hollywood lobby would end up hurting many of its partners, as well as smaller organizations directly tied to Google. But the search engine giant had a way out — its aggressive lobbying and partnership building skills.

As SOPA appeared poised for passage, Google and several other tech firms stood in opposition and the bill finally failed.

While SOPA was, indeed, a farce — and privacy advocates in Washington were happy the bill didn’t see the light of day — it’s important to note how hard Google worked to keep it from becoming a reality, putting the Silicon Valley giant closer to powerful institutions that, in theory, are against crony capitalism.

But after SOPA, the FTC went back to the drawing board, threatening to investigate Google’s alleged antitrust violations further. At the time, the “company’s rivals, including Microsoft and Yelp, were aggressively pressing arguments that Google was exploiting its dominance in the search business.

Reaching out to another partner, George Mason University’s Law & Economics Center, Google and the university put togetherthe first of three academic conferences at the GMU law school’s Arlington County campus,” which, according to the Washington Post, helped to shape the FTC’s approach to the Google probe from then on.

At the third academic conference held at GMU, Google remained present as a silent partner. As “[a] strong contingent of FTC economists and lawyers were on hand for the May 16, 2012, session,” the Washington Post reported, research financially backed by Google was presented by GMU lawyers and economists. And “[i]n January 2013, after an investigation that spanned more than a year and a half, the FTC settled the case with Google, which agreed to give its rivals more access to patents and make it easier for advertisers to use other ad platforms.”

From the publication:

But when it came to the charges that Google biased its search results to promote its own products, the five FTC commissioners all voted to close the investigation, saying there was no evidence the company’s practices were harming consumers.

As Google became more involved with politics, other lobbying opportunities would arise.

More recently, Google got involved in yet another powerful lobbying effort, which started when the company hired the former administrator of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to serve as the company’s Director of Safety for Self-Driving Cars, proving the revolving door that presidential candidate Barack Obama promised to nix is still alive and well. The effort paid off, and personal injury attorneys are now concerned that Google may try to push still more regulations, forcing regulators to stick the human driver with the blame for crashes and getting Google’s autonomous driving system off the hook.

Whether YouTube’s ad policy has anything to do with its parent company’s politics is impossible to determine. But as we analyze Google’s influence in Washington, it’s important to note that, whether you agree with the tech giant on none, some, or all issues, governments create the incentives for companies like Google to continue rent-seeking.

As the economist David R. Henderson puts it, individuals “are said to seek rents when they try to obtain benefits for themselves through the political arena. … licensed electricians and doctors [for instance] often lobby to keep regulations in place that restrict competition from unlicensed electricians or doctors.” Companies like Google are champions of this practice, which has helped to protect the brand’s popularity by keeping competitors at bay.

So it’s not a surprise to see many claiming their content is being censored by Google’s YouTube. After all, with the amount of power the company holds in Washington, it’s as if Google – or Alphabet – is an actual wing of the government.

“Total Destruction of Univision” “without breaking a single law” promised by victims of Gawker attacks if Univision does not delete all Gawker Properties within 48 hours

Gawker Media was used by The White House, John Doerr, Eric Schmidt and Elon Musk to destroy their political enemies and competitors. Now the victims of those “hit-job” attacks are demanding that Univision delete all of the properties of Gawker Media or face lawsuits, tax evasion charges, exposure of corporate funds used for hookers, complete investment portfolio revelations and more. Individual staff and writers at Gawker Media, and now Univision, are being targeted for huge personal law suits.

Gawker Media staffers aren’t taking to life in corporate America too well.

Irate Executive Editor John Cook and staffers are expected on Tuesday to conclude two days of talks with their new bosses at Univision after the two sides fought over the decision to delete six posts from the embattled digital media company’s stable of sites, The Post has learned.

Also expected to be discussed at the meeting was staffers’ request that Univision indemnify them personally for stories published — a request that the media giant denied, sources said.

Staffers are covered under Univision’s general legal insurance policy that applies to all its editorial staff, according to sources, but the group of reporters wanted better protections than they had even before Gawker Media collapsed into Chapter 11 and was scooped up by Univision.

Gawker writer A.J. Daulerio was personally sued by Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, and was found liable by a Florida jury alongside Nick Denton’s struggling media empire.

Univision insists it removed the posts, including one on Jezebel, “Man Acquitted of Sexual Assault Sues Blog for Calling Him Serial Rapist,” because each is the subject of litigation. Three of the deleted posts were on Deadspin and two were on Gizmodo.

Univision did not agree to assume Gawker Media’s legal liabilities.

Univision did not delete a host of other posts that are “under threat of litigation,” sources told The Post.

On Monday afternoon, the union representing Gawker writers condemned the story deletions by Univision “in the strongest possible terms” and said it “sets an alarming precedent.”

“We have seen firsthand the damage that a targeted lawsuit campaign can do to companies and individual journalists,” the union said in its statement, “and the removal of these posts can only encourage such attempts in the future.”

The union said it will now seek to “rebuild trust” with management of the media conglomerate.

None of the deleted posts was at the original Gawker.com site, which was not included in the sale and is now looking for a party to pay server costs so that it can maintain the Gawker.com archive, The Post has learned.

The Gawker Media staff are irked because they believe the deleted posts are well reported and true. Cook did not respond to an email seeking comment.

All in all, it was a rocky first business day for Univision, which on Friday closed on its $135 million purchase. By Saturday, there was a war of words.

Univision continues to operate Gizmodo, Deadspin and Jezebel, among other assets.

The new owner took down the stories, it said, because of “a desire to have a clean slate as we look to support and grow the editorial missions of the acquired brands.”

In a day when major corporations can disappear overnight with a little bit of internet transparency, Univision would be wise to heed the call.

The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming

Someone Is Learning How to Take Down the Internet

Over the past year or two, someone has been probing the defenses of the companies that run critical pieces of the Internet. These probes take the form of precisely calibrated attacks designed to determine exactly how well these companies can defend themselves, and what would be required to take them down. We don’t know who is doing this, but it feels like a large a large nation state. China or Russia would be my first guesses.

First, a little background. If you want to take a network off the Internet, the easiest way to do it is with a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS). Like the name says, this is an attack designed to prevent legitimate users from getting to the site. There are subtleties, but basically it means blasting so much data at the site that it’s overwhelmed. These attacks are not new: hackers do this to sites they don’t like, and criminals have done it as a method of extortion. There is an entire industry, with an arsenal of technologies, devoted to DDoS defense. But largely it’s a matter of bandwidth. If the attacker has a bigger fire hose of data than the defender has, the attacker wins.

Recently, some of the major companies that provide the basic infrastructure that makes the Internet work have seen an increase in DDoS attacks against them. Moreover, they have seen a certain profile of attacks. These attacks are significantly larger than the ones they’re used to seeing. They last longer. They’re more sophisticated. And they look like probing. One week, the attack would start at a particular level of attack and slowly ramp up before stopping. The next week, it would start at that higher point and continue. And so on, along those lines, as if the attacker were looking for the exact point of failure.

The attacks are also configured in such a way as to see what the company’s total defenses are. There are many different ways to launch a DDoS attacks. The more attack vectors you employ simultaneously, the more different defenses the defender has to counter with. These companies are seeing more attacks using three or four different vectors. This means that the companies have to use everything they’ve got to defend themselves. They can’t hold anything back. They’re forced to demonstrate their defense capabilities for the attacker.

I am unable to give details, because these companies spoke with me under condition of anonymity. But this all is consistent with what Verisign is reporting. Verisign is the registrar for many popular top-level Internet domains, like .com and .net. If it goes down, there’s a global blackout of all websites and e-mail addresses in the most common top-level domains. Every quarter, Verisign publishes a DDoS trends report. While its publication doesn’t have the level of detail I heard from the companies I spoke with, the trends are the same: “in Q2 2016, attacks continued to become more frequent, persistent, and complex.”

There’s more. One company told me about a variety of probing attacks in addition to the DDoS attacks: testing the ability to manipulate Internet addresses and routes, seeing how long it takes the defenders to respond, and so on. Someone is extensively testing the core defensive capabilities of the companies that provide critical Internet services.

Who would do this? It doesn’t seem like something an activist, criminal, or researcher would do. Profiling core infrastructure is common practice in espionage and intelligence gathering. It’s not normal for companies to do that. Furthermore, the size and scale of these probes — and especially their persistence — points to state actors. It feels like a nation’s military cybercommand trying to calibrate its weaponry in the case of cyberwar. It reminds me of the US’s Cold War program of flying high-altitude planes over the Soviet Union to force their air-defense systems to turn on, to map their capabilities.

What can we do about this? Nothing, really. We don’t know where the attacks come from. The data I see suggests China, an assessment shared by the people I spoke with. On the other hand, it’s possible to disguise the country of origin for these sorts of attacks. The NSA, which has more surveillance in the Internet backbone than everyone else combined, probably has a better idea, but unless the US decides to make an international incident over this, we won’t see any attribution.

But this is happening. And people should know.

This essay previously appeared on Lawfare.com.

<

p class=”entry-tags”>Tags: , , , ,

Elon Musk may very well be a Psychopath, study finds

1 in 5 CEOs are psychopaths, study finds

 

An Australian study has found that about one in five corporate executives are psychopaths – roughly the same rate as among prisoners. 

The study of 261 senior professionals in the United States found that 21 per cent had clinically significant levels of psychopathic traits. The rate of psychopathy in the general population is about one in a hundred.

Nathan Brooks, a forensic psychologist who conducted the study, said the findings suggested that businesses should improve their recruitment screening. 

He said recruiters tend to focus on skills rather than personality features and this has led to firms hiring “successful psychopaths” who may engage in unethical and illegal practices or have a toxic impact on colleagues.

“Typically psychopaths create a lot of chaos and generally tend to play people off against each other,” he said.

 

“For psychopaths,  it [corporate success] is a game and they don’t mind if they violate morals. It is about getting where they want in the company and having dominance over others.”

The global financial crisis in 2008 has prompted researchers to study workplace traits that may have allowed a corporate culture in which unethical behaviour was able to flourish.

Mr Brooks’s research, conducted with a colleague from Australia’s Bond University and a researcher from the University of San Diego, was based on a study of corporate professionals in the supply chain management industry across the US. 

The findings, presented on Tuesday at the Australian Psychological Society Congress in Melbourne, are due to be published in the European Journal of Psychology.

The researchers have been examining ways to help employers screen for potential psychopaths.

“We hope to implement our screening tool in businesses so that there’s an adequate assessment to hopefully identify this problem – to stop people sneaking through into positions in the business that can become very costly,” Mr Brooks said.

Google pulls Group together to censor all of the world’s news and manipulate public opinion globally

Facebook, Twitter join coalition to improve online news

AFPSeptember 13, 2016
First Draft News, which is backed by Google, announced Tuesday that some 20 news organizations will be part of its partner network to share information on best practices for journalism in the online ageFirst Draft News, which is backed by Google, announced Tuesday that some 20 news organizations will be part of its partner network to share information on best practices for journalism in the online age (AFP Photo/Tobias Schwarz)
 

Washington (AFP) – Facebook, Twitter and news organizations including Agence France-Presse have joined a coalition of media and technology groups seeking to filter out online misinformation and improve news quality on social networks.

First Draft News, which is backed by Google, announced Tuesday that some 20 news organizations will be part of its partner network to share information on best practices for journalism in the online age.

Jenni Sargent, managing director of First Draft, said the partner network will help advance the organization’s goal of improving news online and on social networks.

“Filtering out false information can be hard. Even if news organizations only share fact-checked and verified stories, everyone is a publisher and a potential source,” she said in a blog post.

“We are not going to solve these problems overnight, but we’re certainly not going to solve them as individual organizations.”

Sargent said the coalition will develop training programs and “a collaborative verification platform,” as well as a voluntary code of practice for online news.

“We live in a time when trust and truth are issues that all newsrooms, and increasingly the social platforms themselves, are facing,” she said.

“Each partner is committed to sharing knowledge, developing policies and devising training in how journalists use the social web to find and report news.”

The announcement comes amid concerns over the growing role of social networks, especially Facebook, in delivering and filtering news, and sometimes allowing hoaxes and misinformation to proliferate.

The manipulation network includes left wing media controllers like: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, The New York Times, Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, CNN, ABC News of Australia, ProPublica, AFP, The Telegraph, France Info, Breaking News, Le Monde’s Les Decodeurs, International Business Times UK, Eurovision News Exchange and Al Jazeera Media Network.

Other organizations in the network include Amnesty International, European Journalism Centre, American Press Institute, International Fact Checking Network and Duke Reporters’ Lab.”

First Draft was formed last year with support from Google News Lab and has worked with YouTube on verifying user-generated videos, among other projects.

The US government votes to slaughter 45,000 wild horses to make room for more profitable cows for McDonald’s hamburgers

 

The US government votes to slaughter 45,000 wild horses to make room for cattle

View Slideshow

Last Friday, the Bureau of Land Management‘s (BLM) National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board made the decision to use euthanasia to kill 45,000 wild horses currently captive in government holding facilities throughout the US. The decision has come under great scrutiny by organizations who argue for using birth control to minimize population growth, instead.

wild horses, wild horses euthanasia, bureau of land management, National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, the cloud foundation, ginger kathrens, cattle grazing, rangelands, horse removal, horse round-up, horse euthanasia

Over the last 20 years, the BLM has been rounding up and removing wild horses from their natural habitat in the interest of allowing privately owned cattle to graze on the land. What they have experienced since then is the unsustainable financial burden of keeping the horses alive in their facilities – $49 million in 2015, alone – and the task of coming up with an alternative solution.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released a statement condemning the decision, expressing, “The decision of the BLM advisory board to recommend the destruction of the 45,000 wild horses currently in holding facilities is a complete abdication of responsibility for their care. The agency would not be in this situation but for their long-term mis-management. Alternatives to this proposal have been ignored for over 20 years.”

Related: These are the last truly wild horses on Earth

In June, a meeting for the House Subcommittee on Federal Lands heard from California Congressman Tom McClintock (R), who argued that wild horses are overpopulated. Ginger Kathrens, director of The Cloud Foundation, explained, “Current management practices of round-up, removal and warehousing … cause compensatory reproduction – an increase in populations as a result of decreased competition for forage.” In other words, there would not be a surge in wild horses if the BLM hadn’t removed most of them from their land, in the first place.

The HSUS is calling for alternative fertility control programs to slow down population growth. According to Ms. Kathrens, “Livestock outnumber horses and burros 47 to 1, and livestock are allocated 82 percent of the forage,” suggesting the real problem lies with the decision to use the land for raising cattle and calling into question the need for continuing the practice.

If you want to make your voice heard about this needless slaughter, sign the petition at Change.org.

+ Change.org Petition to Stop the Killing of 45,000 wild horses

Via Humane Society of the United States, Natural Resources.house.gov

Images via Pixabay (1,2)

View Comments (1)

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU