The platform suspended Right Wing Watch and its archive, only to restore it a few hours later. For YouTube it was a mistake, but the organization asks for clarity on content moderation
Reporting and documenting the activity of extremist groups is not the same as being part of them or propagating their ideas, but not for YouTube. The site on Monday suspended the channel of an American nonprofit called Right Wing Watch (Rww), on its own platform. Right Wing Watch, in fact, documents groups and individuals linked to right-wing extremism.
YouTube, however, after the insistence of those who manage the channel, and perhaps also due to media pressure, has canceled the suspension, thus renouncing the policies it had applied. The platform has rules against hate speech and disinformation, but also sections that specify the importance of context when making content moderation decisions.
Our efforts to expose the bigoted view and dangerous conspiracy theories spread by right-wing activists has now resulted in @YouTube banning our channel and removing thousands of our videos. We attempted to appeal this decision, and YouTube rejected it. pic.twitter.com/74Rfi31uQe
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) June 28, 2021
The blocking of the channel was due – according to the screenshots of the emails tweeted by the organization – a “serious violations or repeated of our Community Guidelines “, as YouTube moderators wrote at Rww. The organization appealed the decision, but the Google-owned platform responded by confirming the channel’s ban. A few hours later, however, YouTube backed down on its choice and restored the group’s channel and videos.
A YouTube spokesperson described how a mistake the decision to suspend the channel, in a statement a Gizmodo. “The Right Wing Watch YouTube channel was suspended by mistake, but after further revision it was reinstated “, has explained.
Right Wing Watch is known for tracking American far-right media outlets, such as conspiracy theorists Alex Jones and Pat Robertson. However, a large part of his work focuses on lesser-known members of evangelical movements, preachers, radio hosts and personalities of QAnon. Rww’s YouTube channel is therefore a important archive of facts, news and opinions relating to the galaxy of the US far right.
On multiple occasions, the coverage of Rww has played a part in the suspension of extremists from sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube itself. However, the organization reported that it is not the first time that its content is not well viewed by YouTube. Only in April had he received two warnings, so Rww had decided to block the publication of videos.
In a declaration, the director of Right Wing Watch, Adele Stan, wrote that “There is a huge difference between reporting on offensive activities and committing them”. Stan also added that he hopes “that this is the end of a years-long struggle with YouTube to understand the nature of our work. We also hope that the platform will become more transparent about the process it uses to determine if a user has violated its rules “. A process that, he denounces, has so far been either opaque and “Led to decisions and frustrating reversals and inexplicable like this “.