Tell YouTube To Change Their Video Flagging System
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To: Susan D. Wojcicki, @SusanWojcicki, YouTube Chief Executive Officer
Robert Kyncl, @rkyncl, YouTube Head of Content & Business Operations
YouTube transformed many lives and careers over the years with its simple idea: “Broadcast Yourself”. This has done more to democratize media access than perhaps any other company, allowing people to express their creativity and share it to others all over the globe. It is in appreciation of this independent spirit that many content creators and fans are finding themselves concerned with the flaws of the current flagging system, which punishes creators in apparently arbitrary ways, and is open to many abuses.
The YouTube system appears to be automated and based purely the number of flags a video gets, which permits false flag campaigns. Facebook had a similar problem with rampant abuse of its flagging system. LGBTQ pages or pro-choice pages were constantly flagged and terminated unfairly. Some of the solutions they implemented improved the situation greatly and we feel their success can be a model for YouTube.
The YouTube video flagging system is failing and requires immediate review and reform. Creators have several legitimate complaints about the automated and arbitrary flagging system that can result in their channels being wrongly shut down. We call to your attention these facts:
- the flagging system appears automated because content clearly not in violation of the ToS has been flagged off YouTube.
- creators are given no substantive information on:
* how/why the content in the video violates the ToS
* timestamps of the alleged violation included in complaints
* how many complaints were submitted
- creators are given no chance to edit the content out before having it removed; and
- the appeals process appears entirely automated because appeals are often rejected within minutes or even moments of being filed.
One particularly egregious example of abuse happened recently. Politically Incorrect - 8chan (also known as /pol/) published a list of “left-wing” channels for the expressed purpose of flagging these channels down. This attempt at curtailing the free exchange of ideas based on political disagreement is disturbing enough, but what is more disturbing is that it apparently works. Kevin Logan, whose name was at the top of the list, had both his channels taken down in a ten-day period. Keep in mind that Mr. Logan had both of these channels in operation for years. See: Pol's Flagging War against Leftypol https://youtu.be/UgNhO8lMINw
No one’s speech should be curtailed in this way. We creators and concerned fans call upon the Susan Wojcicki, Robert Kyncl, and the relevant people at YouTube LLC to:
- immediately restore Kevin Logan’s falsely flagged channels, and
- protect other YouTubers who are on the targeted /pol list.
We also call on Susan Wojcicki and Robert Kyncl to immediately implement the following:
- hire more people to review all appeals and communicate back to creators;
- reform the flagging system to provide more feedback to creators with information on the precise violation, time stamp of the offending material, number of complaints; and
- allow creators to take down and replace the videos with offending material edited out before giving a strike.
We feel this will make YouTube a better and more transparent system for everyone. Thank your for hearing and addressing these concerns.
The viewers and content creators of YouTube
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