Want to post a video critical of illegal immigration or same-sex marriage? YouTube may no longer allow it. The popular video sharing platform recently updated its hate speech policy to say it would remove content promoting violence and hate against individuals or groups based on a host of attributes. The new policy applies to long-recognized protected classes such as age, sex, nationality, and race, along with newer additions such as gender identity, sexual orientation, and immigration status.
YouTube explained that its old policy attempted to curb the influence of objectionable content by limiting recommendations and features such as comments and sharing. The new policy goes further by allowing the platform to prohibit and take down objectionable videos that claim one group is superior to another based on any of the listed attributes.
It is unclear whether the policy would shut out content that promotes meaningful discussion over immigration policy, the nature of marriage, or other polarizing issues, depending on how YouTube gatekeepers define “hate.”
As Big Tech takes heat from all sides, platforms like YouTube may be both weary and wary of content moderation. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants an outside body to set standards for speech on social media. “Lawmakers often tell me we have too much power over speech, and, frankly, I agree,” he wrote in March in The Washington Post. Lawmakers, both conservative and liberal, agree, too—even if they don’t know what to do about it. As Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tweeted, “YouTube is not the Star Chamber—stop playing God & silencing those voices you disagree with. This will not end well.” —Steve West