In the most recent incident, YouTube banned videos by the conservative undercover journalism outfit Project Veritas that contained information about Pinterest and that company’s blacklisting of an anti-abortion group Live Action. YouTube described the information provided to Veritas by a whistleblower as a violation of privacy, and therefore unacceptable.
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Last week, dozens of channels were demonetized or banned outright in what was dubbed the “Vox Ad-pocalypse,” after a journalist at the liberal outlet Vox complained that conservative comedian Steven Crowder had made fun of him in a homophobic way. Crowder was among those demonetized, but the Vox pundit demanded his deletion altogether.
This prompted journalist Glenn Greenwald, himself a liberal, to marvel at the fact that there are journalists out there “begging corporations to silence people.”
The controversy did not abate, however, but only got worse, as a number of media outlets got in on it, demanding more YouTube censorship. Last weekend, The New York Times ran a big feature story about a young man who supposedly got “radicalized” into the so-called alt-right by YouTube. Well, more precisely, it was about how radical Communists hijacked the supposedly “right wing” terms to bring him over to their side – but who needs the details, when there’s outrage to monger!
But is it really YouTube that supposedly radicalizes young people, or the very outlets that demand censorship on the Google-owned video platform? Spanish researcher David Rozado recently went through the Lexis-Nexis database and compiled charts chronicling the word usage by the New York Times, finding some interesting spikes in terminology that shapes the political agenda in recent years. Talk about ‘hockey-stick’ graphs!
Nor was the Times the only publication to do this, just the most mainstream one. Last month, journalist Wesley Yang held up the example of several online publications that were facing impending demise because their business models simply no longer worked. All of them had chased audience metrics and embraced a certain kind of content for that reason.
“Every [venture capital] funded online publication became a woke clickbait mill for a simple reason: the metrics told them this was the best performing type of content,” Yang wrote in an insightful Twitter thread.
Because “we are who pretend to be,” Yang continued, what “began as a cynical metrics and cost-driven expedient became a set of genuine ideological commitments through an online radicalization process driven by cycles of trolling and performative victimhood.”
Online journalist Tim Pool shared a story from his days at one such outlet, when a marketing manager told him that anger drives shares. Nothing personal, just business, right?
Except when it ends up manipulating people’s feelings – which it did. Exhibit A is the ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy, or moral panic, which mainstream media outlets flogged endlessly for years, and continued to insist they had done nothing wrong even after it was debunked by special counsel Robert Mueller.
The trouble with getting “woke” is that they went broke – or, to be more specific, most of the sweet cash from all those outrage clicks was actually harvested by online platforms: Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter, and so on.