I’m pretty pissed off right now.
It’s 5:39pm on Saturday, November 30, 2013 and I just got home from visiting my family for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity this morning to type this up, so I’ve been stuck (more or less) thinking and seething about this all afternoon while driving back.
While listening to the radio, no amount of Midnight Oil, Phil Collins or Rob, Arnie and Dawn could extract the manure I have been force fed since waking up at 7am.
Normally I would say, “Good morning” to my family before checking my email (I know, I’m a dying breed), but today they were already helping themselves to leftovers in the kitchen when I awoke… and I didn’t exactly feel awake enough to interrupt the “Walmart Black Friday” seizing of the dark meat out there.
So I figured I would take a quick look at my email before heading out to the great unknown.
The first thing I saw was a message from Youtube at 2:13am. It read, “The YouTube Community has flagged one or more of your videos as inappropriate. Once a video is flagged, it is reviewed by the YouTube Team against our Community Guidelines. Upon review, we have determined that the following video(s) contain content in violation of these guidelines, and have been disabled… Your account has received one Community Guidelines warning strike, which will expire in six months. Additional violations may result in the temporary disabling of your ability to post content to YouTube and/or the permanent termination of your account.”
The video in question was a podcast about a movie made in the late nineties that some friends of mine had made. Nothing offensive whatsoever… no swearing, bullying, sexist or racial remarks. Just a static, generic image over two men passionately discussing a teenage alien film for an hour or so as the audio.
I’m pretty sure many of you have come across radio shows and podcasts who do this sort of thing on there often in order to bring attention to their websites, reviews, discussions, etc. Not necessarily the most provocative videos to be found on Youtube, but to film fans, marvelously entertaining. But inappropriate to the point of flagging? In the immortal words of Macaulay Culkin from Home Alone, “I don’t think so.”
However, it was the next email (sent at 1:19am) that really caught my eye. It was from a Youtube user called “tammyXyz22” and it was in regards to the video that had just been flagged. It read…
Obviously this was the person who flagged the video and caused it to be removed from Youtube. And when I logged onto the site shortly thereafter, I realized this person’s flagging inexplicably caused Youtube to just throw me under the bus and just terminate my channel altogether while I slept.
Sure, Youtube states in the email they sent, “For more information about how to appeal a strike, please visit this page in the help center.” However, since I no longer have a valid account, I can’t access this page. And since Youtube / Google doesn’t have a call center to talk to a living, breathing person about a situation, well that’s just irritating.
Now I’m going to say something a little controversial. I don’t really need Youtube. I have been making films, music videos long before the internet became accessible via dial up and I can share them in other ways. But Youtube definitely needs me.
I may have only had (just under) 1700 subscribers and over 2.5 million views on a mere 400 videos, but I brought them exposure. My work has been shared via social media, websites, blogs, etc. and by kicking people like me off their site, it will eventually have an effect on their business in the long run. I have no doubts about that.
That being said, I did enjoy posting my videos on Youtube and seeing what other users thought and wrote as comments. And nothing made me happier than sharing a friend’s video, or podcast, and helping them get more views and likes than perhaps they would have gotten otherwise. We’re all in this together, after all. At least that’s what High School Musical taught me. 🙂
But all this doesn’t matter, because there is no accountability on either Youtube or Google’s end. They arbitrary decide which videos stay on their site, and claim that if there is one on there that deserves to be taken off and yet hasn’t been, it’s only because they haven’t gotten around to it. Yeah, right.
You see, in their eyes, that’s where the Youtube community comes in. They depend on you to let them know which videos should be flagged. However, I’m fairly certain the wizards working there just hit most videos with a content flag and punish the people’s accounts for the next six months (or longer) whenever they get a report. After all, who has time to check facts anymore?
The problem is there are quite a few users who just enjoy trolling and flagging as many videos as possible anonymously, just to have good people thrown off the sites. There is absolutely no reason for them to be a jerk towards anyone, just like there is no reason whatsoever for Youtube / Google to listen to them wholeheartedly and remove the “questionable” videos and punish someone’s account.
If a person is posting porn, I get it. But a friend’s podcast about Robert Rodriguez’s 1998 film The Faculty? I would think Youtube would have their site set up, and some common sense, to actually talk with the person who uploaded the video and discuss the situation with that person. Perhaps they wouldn’t be so inclined to rush to judgement against someone who did nothing wrong and actually see what’s really happening.
Or maybe it’s just easier to side with the person who flagged the video and erase someone else’s account. It’s not like that person can actually do anything about it once they’re deleted so what’s the harm? Sometimes modern business / technology models suck.
Anyway, let’s now roll out some other goodies from “tammyXyz22”, the Youtube / Google user who caused me to lose eight years of videos and roughly 1700 subscribers this morning because of an “inappropriate video” of two men discussing a teen alien flick.
By the way, I also had to delete several posts on this website because of this nonsense and that irks me just as much…
I’m so glad Youtube and Google both have the moral clout to know which user should be shut down and which user should prosper. I rest easily knowing these companies are partly in control of what we see on the internet.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this and please share if you like. Together, we can make a difference.
Now I’m off to try to eat some more leftovers… Take care everyone.