YouTube’s efforts to explain why it de-monetized videos by right wing online personality Steven Crowder that targeted Vox writer Carlos Maza with anti-gay mockery has drawn criticism from all quarters, with Maza slamming YouTube’s wrist-slapping and Ted Cruz accusing the platform of “playing God.”
In a nearly 800-word blog post signed by YouTube’s communications chief Chris Dale, the company conceded that its “policies need to keep up with current problems,” and that “One particular challenge we face more and more these days is creator-on-creator harassment.”
Conceding that as “an open platform,” YouTube, Dale wrote last night, sometimes hosts “opinions and views that many, ourselves included, may find offensive.”
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“In the coming months,” Dale wrote, “we will be taking a hard look at our harassment policies with an aim to update them — just as we have to so many policies over the years — in consultation with experts, creators, journalists and those who have, themselves, been victims of harassment. We are determined to evolve our policies, and continue to hold our creators and ourselves to a higher standard.”
But Maza, who has been regularly mocked by Crowder over the last couple years as a “lispy queer” and has had his social media accounts flooded with hateful messages from Crowder’s followers, shot back at YouTube in a Tweet, “Imagine if you just enforced the plain language of your original policies instead of endlessly creating loopholes to exempt high-profile abusers.” (Below, see Maza’s tweet featuring a collection of Crowder’s offending comments).
Earlier this week, YouTube declined to remove Crowder’s channel but said it would suspend Crowder’s ability to sell ads. In addition to repeatedly imitating Maza in a mocking, effeminate voice and calling him “a little queer,” “gay Latino from Vox,” “gay Mexican” and “Mr. Gay Vox,” Crowder sells T-shirts on his site with the slogan “Socialism is for F-gs.”
YouTube declined to close Crowder’s channel, though, saying Crowder’s individual videos did not violate company guidelines.
“In the case of Crowder’s channel,” Dale wrote last night, “a thorough review over the weekend found that individually, the flagged videos did not violate our Community Guidelines. However, in the subsequent days, we saw the widespread harm to the YouTube community resulting from the ongoing pattern of egregious behavior, took a deeper look, and made the decision to suspend monetization. In order to be considered for reinstatement, all relevant issues with the channel need to be addressed, including any videos that violate our policies, as well as things like offensive merchandise.”
This morning, Maza tweeted, “If @YouTube doesn’t protect marginalized creators from abuse, it isn’t giving those creators meaningful access to ‘free speech.’ It’s creating a platform where only monsters feel safe enough to talk about shit that actually matters.”
As reactions continued to ricochet around on Thursday, BuzzFeed News Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith described the situation as being part of a “crisis” for YouTube. Tech giants like Facebook and Google “made up these rules and change them daily,” he said during a panel at the FT Future of News Summit.
Here’s Maza’s May 30 tweet that brought the issue to wider public attention, and below that Maza’s response to Ted Cruz’s statement:
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