The video platform, owned by the left-skewed Google‘s parent company, Alphabet, announced that it was changing its policy on age-restricted content effective Tuesday.
“With greater safeguards in place, you may see videos on your channel placed behind an age-restriction, which limits the content to viewers who are at least 18 years old,” the site claimed in its announcement.
“… We’re also adjusting the way our age-restriction works off YouTube, prohibiting age-restricted videos to be viewable when embedded on most third-party sites,” it continued. “Users that click on an age-restricted video on another website will be redirected to YouTube, where they will only be able to view the content when logged-in.”
Notably included among YouTube’s subjective guidelines for what constitutes “age-restricted” content are depictions of violence, much like the radical riots that have consumed far-left cities in recent months.
The violent unrest threatens to be amplified even further in the lead-up and aftermath of the November election, with some Democrats using the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to call for arson and other undemocratic forms of extremist protest.
If they even TRY to replace RBG we burn the entire fucking thing down.
— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) September 19, 2020
Meanwhile, one of Alphabet’s top decision-makers, Chairman John Hennessy, endorsed Democrat hopeful Joe Biden in an open letter penned by two-dozen leaders of the tech industry who favor looser US immigration policies and chummier relations with China.
YouTube’s spontaneous policy change amounts to a de facto censorship of conservative media, who have been among the few to report on the riots in cities like Seattle and Portland, refuting and debunking the false claims that they are largely “peaceful protests.”
In September, for example, YouTube restricted a video taken exclusively from a House Judiciary Committee hearing in which Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, had juxtaposed gas-lighting media and Democrat officials with images of the shocking violence committed by domestic-terrorism groups like Antifa.
“We’re going to look into this for sure,” Russell Dye, senior communications counsel for Jordan’s office, told Headline USA in an email. “I’ve already got someone on it.”
While YouTube asserted that the policy shift would not impact monetization of videos that use in-video advertising from its site, its blocking of embedded videos will almost certainly harm outlets that rely on their own sites for advertising.
The new rule also seems specifically intended to flout an executive order issued in May by President Donald Trump that reaffirmed Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
The law stipulates that platforms deemed a public utility may be exempt from certain publishing regulations, such as defamation laws, provided the content originates with users who are protected by the First Amendment.
Increasingly, however, as platforms exert control over the content through their own arbitrary guidelines, particularly in terms of political bias, they are asserting the role of editors instead of publishers.
“In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand-pick the speech that Americans may access and convey online,” said the executive order.
“This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic,” it continued. “When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power.”
Even so, online media platforms have been given broader discretion when it comes to filtering content that is considered “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing or otherwise objectionable.”
The fact that many of those attributes have come to characterize leftist anti-Trump resistance efforts thus allows dishonest companies a back-door avenue to censoring the same sort of ugliness that they tacitly—or explicitly—condone elsewhere.
In addition to YouTube, Facebook also has come out to announce that it planned to restrict content related to social unrest that might be of political significance. Others are likely to follow suit.
“This election is not going to be business as usual,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Sept. 3 blog post.
“We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy,” he continued. “That means helping people register and vote, clearing up confusion about how this election will work, and taking steps to reduce the chances of violence and unrest.”