Recently, YouTube announced that it has updated some of its anti-harassment policy to protect against “malicious insults” based on race, gender expression and sexual orientation. For those that believe in the sanctity of marriage and religious freedom, this does not bode well.
This updated policy is in reaction to a story that The Daily Citizen covered earlier this year, when a social media dispute erupted between Steven Crowder, a conservative commentator, and Carlos Maza, a Vox reporter. Maza claimed that some of Crowder’s statements were “overt attacks on my sexual orientation and ethnicity.” Long story short, the social media company first sided with Crowder and agreed that while the statements were “hurtful” they “didn’t violate our policies” before switching sides to Maza under social media pressure and penalizing Crowder.
Now, YouTube is updating its anti-harassment policy based off the Crowder/Maza situation. This change will likely impact conservative voices across the platform.
According to a report by the BBC, YouTube already bans videos that: contained explicit threats of violence; bullies somebody about their appearance; reveals somebody’s personal information; or content that encourages views to harass an individual. The new rules will now also ban: “‘veiled’ or implied threats of violence, such as saying ‘you better watch out’; simulated violence towards an individual, and; malicious insults based on protected attributes such as race, gender expression or sexual orientation.”
Based on these new rules, it would appear as thoughSanta Claus won’t be coming to town this year.
But beyond the random censoring part of a beloved Christmas song, it looks like those with a traditional view on marriage and family might come under fire. For example, is it now a “malicious insult” on YouTube to say that only men and women should be allowed to get married? Will creators be penalized if they say that men and women are different and that “gender expression” doesn’t exist? This has already happened to Dr. Michelle Cretella, who’s video warning about the medical dangers of giving children puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones was removed from the video sharing platform for “hate speech.”
These are questions that YouTube must answer.
The other potential problem is that among these protected classes, religious faith isn’t mentioned. So, in theory, would a content producer be penalized for believing that sexual relations between two men is a sin, but another could be allowed to attack the virgin birth and call Jesus’ mother a slut without a problem? That’s an extreme example, but social media in general can often bring out the worst in people. As Christians, we would likely agree that the statement about the mother of Jesus Christ is a “malicious insult” to both our faith and the God of the universe. But the outrage of Christians would likely rate low on YouTube’s list of priorities and the video would likely remain on the website.
This new statement also doesn’t protect against the rising threat of anti-Semitism. Would a video claiming that Jews are cockroaches be allowed to remain on the platform, while a similar video about a member of the LGBT community get pulled? While there hasn’t been a case on YouTube yet, this did happen to Ben Shapiro, a politically conservative Jew, while he was on campus at Stanford University. The comparison of him to a cockroach was not only grossly inappropriate, it actually had genocidal overtones. Of course, the liberal group at Stanford received little condemnation since Shapiro is a conservative. In a response to the situation, Shapiro tweeted, “Nothing says fighting intolerance like depicting your political opponents as insects to be exterminated. Well done, Stanford SJWs!”
There is some benefit to making sure that content on any social media platform does not depict or encourage violence. There is far too much of that online nowadays. The problem is that YouTube seems to have a particular political and philosophical bias in favor of liberal causes, and creators with conservative ideals or who want to express their religious freedom when it comes to LGBT issues may find their options in the social media space increasingly limited.