From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
YouTube has faced criticism over the offensive content in some of its videos. The uploading of videos containing defamation, pornography, and material encouraging criminal conduct is prohibited by YouTube's terms of service. Controversial content has included material relating to Holocaust denial and the Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 football fans from Liverpool were crushed to death in 1989. YouTube relies on its users to flag the content of videos as inappropriate, and a YouTube employee will view a flagged video to determine whether it violates the site's terms of service. In July 2008, the Culture and Media Committee of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom stated that it was "unimpressed" with YouTube's system for policing its videos, and argued that "proactive review of content should be standard practice for sites hosting user-generated content". YouTube responded by stating:
- We have strict rules on what's allowed, and a system that enables anyone who sees inappropriate content to report it to our 24/7 review team and have it dealt with promptly. We educate our community on the rules and include a direct link from every YouTube page to make this process as easy as possible for our users. Given the volume of content uploaded on our site, we think this is by far the most effective way to make sure that the tiny minority of videos that break the rules come down quickly.
In October 2010, U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner urged YouTube to remove from its website videos of imam Anwar al-Awlaki. YouTube pulled some of the videos in November 2010, stating they violated the site's guidelines. In December 2010, YouTube added "promotes terrorism" to the list of reasons that users can give when flagging a video as inappropriate.
In August 2016, YouTube introduced a notification system for a policy restricting the types of content that may be incorporated into videos being monetized, providing a means to notify users of these violations and allow them to appeal. These restrictions cover content that is not deemed "advertiser-friendly", including strong violence, language, sexual content, and "controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown", unless the content is "usually newsworthy or comedic and the creator's intent is to inform or entertain". Although the policy is not new, the issue was brought into prominence by the notification system, as well as a video discussing the matter by prominent user Philip DeFranco, in which he considered the practice to be censorship. On September 1, 2016, the hashtag "#YouTubeIsOverParty" was prominently used on Twitter as a means of discussing the controversy. A YouTube spokesperson stated that "while our policy of demonetizing videos due to advertiser-friendly concerns hasn't changed, we've recently improved the notification and appeal process to ensure better communication to our creators."