YouTube indicated that as the platform ramps up human-powered moderation efforts, new moderators may have mistakenly removed or flagged right-wing videos and channels. Bloomberg reported the news this afternoon, quoting a YouTube spokesperson saying that “as we work to hire rapidly and ramp up our policy enforcement teams throughout 2018, newer members may misapply some of our policies resulting in mistaken removals.” The spokesperson said that YouTube’s policies had not changed, and that “we’ll reinstate any videos that were removed in error.”
The Outline reported earlier today that several right-wing channels had been completely shut down since the Parkland shooting, and others had been issued strikes against their account — most prominently the channel of InfoWars founder Alex Jones, who has heavily promoted the theory that shooting survivors are actually trained “crisis actors.” Jones’ channel has received two strikes in the past two weeks, both for violating YouTube’s policy on “harassment and bullying,” but InfoWars reported that the second strike was later removed. The Outline noted that some videos it mentioned had later reappeared, but that the accounts it listed had not been unbanned.
A person familiar with YouTube’s operations disputed the idea that moderators were specifically targeting right-wing content, saying it was not atypical to see mistakes across a range of content on the platform.
This situation appears unrelated to YouTube’s recent ban of Atomwaffen, a neo-Nazi group recently linked to the murder of a college student. Atomwaffen’s channels were banned for “multiple or severe” violations of YouTube’s hate speech rules, and remain offline.
Conservative YouTubers have been convinced for some time that YouTube is intentionally purging or discriminating against their views. PragerU, an organization founded by commentator Dennis Prager, sued the platform in October for allegedly demonetizing or filtering its videos based on their ideological content. However, the platform has also been criticized for using the same filtering systems to hide LGBTQ content. Conversely, it was called out for allowing a “crisis actor” conspiracy video to top YouTube’s trending list. YouTube said that this video was automatically misclassified, because it “contained footage from an authoritative news source.”
Update 6:00PM ET: Added comment about YouTube operations.