24 Feb 2021 News Rant

YouTube Needs Fixing…

youtube blog post image

YouTube, while it’s been around forever, it has a huge problem that keeps getting avoided but needs addressing.
Content Moderation.


IT’S 2021!

All users should have the ability to mute or block content they don’t want to consume or see. Twitter has Mute and filters to avoid seeing Toxic, Triggering, or Hateful content. Why does YouTube have a problem with Users making choices about the content they want to consume instead of forcing videos on people that may be harmful or hateful.

For example, I am a gay male who uses he/him pronouns, and I vehemently dislike disinformation and groups pedaling quack science. Groups and/or of icky people like PragerU, Ben Shapiro, and other dumb sh*t like that. But if I block them on YouTube’s website I don’t get bombarded with Alt-Right propaganda or disinformation campaigns from groups like PragerU. But instead, if I use a device like a Mobile Device or a SmartTV based version of YouTube, everything I block is disregarded.

And they show up in the most random channels on AppleTV.
So if I fired up my TV and wanted to see food or eating videos, then WHAT THE F*CK DOES PRAGERU HAVE TO DO WITH EATING?

PragerU in YouTube‘s Eating Section.
When PragerU is blocked by my attached account.

Now, while this may seem like a minor inconvenience, but you have to ask yourself, “Why is this here?” if this was auto-playing recommended videos. Imagine if it was one of the many hate groups that are still up on YouTube…and you’re watching harmless cooking videos or dog videos…and BAM! “CALIFORNIA IS EVIL CAUSE BILL MAHER SAID SO!” – PragerU. Way to kill my vibe and ruin my evening! Meanwhile, countless Sex Workers and Queer Content creators are being silenced like in these articles for further reading.

YouTube Banned An Erotic Film Production Company After It Posted Interviews With Sex Workers [source: vice.com]
Sex Ed Vloggers Say YouTube Is Censoring Their Videos [source: vice.com]
A group of YouTubers is trying to prove the site systematically demonetizes queer content [source: vox.com]

Inside LGBTQ Vloggers’ Class-Action ‘Censorship’ Suit Against YouTube [Source: rollingstones.com]

Yet, Hate, Conspiracy Theories, And Covid-19 cures/misinformation can flourish. YouTube’s lax rules
on pushing YouTube users into the fringe aren’t a secret either. Some outlets have been trying to talk about it for a while.

How YouTube’s Channel Recommendations Push Users To The Fringe [source: buzzfeednews.com ]
YouTube won’t ban QAnon content but will remove videos that could promote violence [Source: theverge.com]
Tracking Viral Misinformation [Source: nytimes.com]

But to be fair: I don’t think this only falls on content moderation. But I believe in giving power to users to decide what content they want to consume. As some reports show, the horrors some content moderators have had to deal with like in the following chilling Verge article:

The Terror Queue [Source: theverge.com]

Another great read on the topic of YouTube content moderation horror stories from old employees.

Former YouTube content moderator describes horrors of the job in new lawsuit [Source: CNBC.com]

But while also being fair this article by Wired brings up a valid point to take into consideration. Maybe it’s not the content algorithms rather how fringe groups operate.

Maybe It’s Not YouTube’s Algorithm That Radicalizes People [Wired.com]

But again this all sounds nice but Google’s actions paint a kind of chilling picture. That to me does not do well for the idea that it’s the people, not the platform argument.

What actions do I speak of? Well for starters, very much the firing of DR. Timnit Gebrull @ Google. Who is Timnit Gebrull and why should you care? She has been working hard for inclusion and diversity in tech and has done awesome work for AI algorithms as in the video below. She also co-founded Black in AI, which helps to break barriers for black people in tech.

Link: Black In Ai

Dr. Timnit Gebru tedX talk on AI.

Google hired Timnit Gebru to be an outspoken critic of unethical AI. Then she was fired for it. [source: washingtonpost.com]
https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/12/23/google-timnit-gebru-ai-ethics/ [source: washingtonpost.com]

The withering email that got an ethical AI researcher fired at Google – [source: platformer.news]

Standing with Dr. Timnit Gebru — #ISupportTimnit #BelieveBlackWomen [source: Google Walkout For Real Change @ medium.com]


We read the paper that forced Timnit Gebru out of Google. Here’s what it says. [source: MIT technologyreview.com]

And if you don’t want to read about it Vice did a great video interview as well on the subject of how sketchy the firing was and looks for a company that dropped “Don’t Be Evil” from its code of conduct…

AI Ethics Researcher Timnit Gebru‘s Firing Doesn’t Look Good For Google
[source: Vice News]

Google Removes ‘Don’t Be Evil’ Clause From Its Code of Conduct [source: gizmodo.com]

Worth noting they also fired Dr. Margaret Mitchell, who was working on making AI better for humans.

Ted talk by Dr. Margaret Mitchel. [Source: YouTube TED channel]

Google fires second AI ethics researcher following internal investigation [source: theverge.com]


Google fires top ethical AI expert Margaret Mitchell [source:zdnet.com]


Dr. Marget Mitchell: Google Head of Ethical AI Research on Data Biases and Ethics Video

So, where do we go from here? We need more spaces that are better for humans and content creators. We should not have monopolies on content monetization. We should be able to say ‘I don’t wanna see content like this.‘ Children luckily are protected for YouTube kids. As the link below shows features to block channels and videos. But only for YouTube kids apparently.


But, apparently, Google has been mismanaging YouTube for quite some time. But we gotta do better if they can’t by building a better platform. So to any developers out there: This is your time to shine and make something better. As it seems, Google really doesn’t care so long as profits are good.

{note: using YouTube links to talk about how YouTube is bad is ironic but also a reminder that we need more platforms for healthy competition and safer spaces for internet content for everyone. for edits email @ [email protected] }


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