They’re at it again. This time, it’s Alphabet’s YouTube, owned through Alphabet’s subsidiary Google that’s inflicting censorship.
YouTube has blocked some British history teachers from its service for uploading archive material related to Adolf Hitler, saying they are breaching new guidelines banning the promotion of hate speech.
Alphabet restored the censored data, but only after it had gotten caught in its censorship and the ensuing uproar got too uncomfortable.
Alphabet’s censorship was because the material consisted of
content that promotes hatred or violence against members of a protected group.
Yeah—the protected group here was Alphabet’s censors.
One of the victims of this censorship, though, seems to have missed the lesson. Scott Alsop owns the MrAllsopHistory website saw Alphabet censor his efforts to upload archival Hitler imagery and video clips because Alphabet disapproved of them.
I fully support YouTube’s increased efforts to curb hate speech, but also feel that silencing the very people who seek to teach about its dangers could be counter-productive to YouTube’s intended goal[.]
“Counter-productive?” Well, NSS.
Alphabet’s IT personnel are professional folks, fully versed in what they’re doing. So are Alphabet’s folks responsible for testing IT’s…fixes. This failure shows that Alphabet either did this deliberately and got caught—to stop people being radicalized, because these Precious Ones know better than their users—or it demonstrates the inevitable outcome of well-intentioned incompetence.
Either way, censorship itself is a failure that directly attacks free speech. Some speech is inherently uncomfortable. The discomfort, though, is in the perception of the hearer (who plainly is not a listener) and not at all in the speech of the speaker. The hearer can listen better or stop paying attention to the speaker altogether. The hatefulness of other speech is in the speaker, true enough, but those who receive the speech still have only two choices: stop attending to the speaker, or answer him with their own speech.
The Alphabets of the world—private enterprise, as in the present case, or government man—have no business dictating to us what they, in their precious awesomeness, will presume to permit us to say. Or to hear. And we have no business sending them our money in the form of buying their product, nor do we have any business electing them to office.