These accounts could remain demonetized for months, or forever, writes Caitlin Johnstone. This is censorship.
By Caitlin Johnstone
The Google-owned video sharing platform YouTube has demonetized numerous independent media accounts, a jarring escalation in the steadily intensifying campaign against alternative news outlets online.
Progressive commentators Graham Elwood, The Progressive Soapbox, The Convo Couch, Franc Analysis, Hannah Reloaded and Cyberdemon531 have all received notifications from YouTube that their videos are no longer permitted to earn money through the platform’s various monetization features, as has Ford Fischer, a respected freelancer who films U.S. political demonstrations. No explanation has been offered for this decision beyond the vague claim that “your channel is not in line with our YouTube Partner Program policies” due to “harmful content.”
You guys have destroyed my channel without legit explanation as to why. No videos are given – and frankly there is literally zero "harmful' content on my channel. This is a radically bad error that needs to be corrected. @TeamYouTube @YouTubeCreators @YouTube
— ProgressiveSoapbox (@theProgSoapbox) February 3, 2021
Like all large online platforms, YouTube’s appeals process is notoriously opaque and unaccountable. These accounts could remain demonetized for months, or forever, without any clear explanation at all. Ford Fischer, who has been in this situation before, said on Twitter that his account was left demonetized for seven months before YouTube reversed its decision.
“Last time you demonetized my channel, I spoke out for seven months. I didn’t delete a single piece of content. You admitted you were wrong. I forgive you. Please don’t do this again,” Fischer tweeted.
“No superchats, no ad revenue, no YouTube premium money,” tweeted Elwood, who also said “I have a call with my lawyers later today.”
“You guys have destroyed my channel without legit explanation as to why,” tweeted Jamarl Thomas of Progressive Soapbox. “No videos are given – and frankly there is literally zero ‘harmful’ content on my channel. This is a radically bad error that needs to be corrected.”
The Convo Couch’s Jonathan Mayorca tweeted the notification he received from YouTube which gave the reason as “Harmful content: Content that focuses on controversial issues and that is harmful to viewers,” saying no specific video or subject was named. Nobody receiving these notifications appears to have any idea what is meant by “harmful” or “controversial” or why YouTube is mentioning them in the same breath as though these two things are connected or synonymous in some way.
Demand @YouTubeCreators allow @grahamelwood to monetize his channel! Open discussion is crucial to a healthy society. Graham’s livelihood is being taken away because he doesn’t bow down to corporate talking points! https://t.co/fAXom5OPAy
— Lee Camp [Redacted] (@LeeCamp) February 2, 2021
YouTube has been providing template responses saying “We recommend making the needed changes to your content and reapply in 30 days” while refusing to specify what the “needed changes” even are.
I would not be able to create content at anywhere near the pace I do were I not making enough money from it to do it full time. Life is far too demanding with far too much else going on for me to be able to maintain anything like daily output; being financially de-platformed and having to get another job would force me down to an essay a week in my spare time, if that. Anyone who works in independent media full time knows this, and so do the powerful people who are steadily ratcheting up the campaign to silence anyone who hasn’t passed through the gatekeepers of the plutocratic media.
Financial de-platforming is censorship. People were given an opportunity to devote themselves to the vocation of creating media outside the gatekeeping apparatus of billionaire news institutions, which is arguably the single most important vocation anyone can give themselves to in our world right now, and they built their lives around their ability to do this. Now it’s being ripped away from them; their literal jobs are being taken away. They were offered a reason to think they’d be able to make a living doing very important work, and then they were sucker punched with what amounts to political censorship.
This has been a continually escalating trend for years. The general population is herded onto huge monopolistic social media platforms offering democratization of information where your voice can be heard, and then those platforms proceed to censor an increasing amount of political speech in increasing coordination with the U.S. government.
If the democratization of information online is successfully reversed and the mass media gatekeepers are again the sole authorities on what’s real and true, people will be locked into forming their ideas on how to think, act and vote based on what they are told by the same plutocratic media institutions which have been deceiving them into every war and manipulating them into accepting the status quo for generations.
If the door is locked to the possibility of a grassroots information rebellion against the narrative hegemony of our rulers, we will remain doomed to continue along the same ecocidal, omnicidal trajectory these bastards have us on until it reaches its inevitable conclusion. This must be resisted.
Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium. Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either Youtube, soundcloud, Apple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar on Patreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone and Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.
This article was re-published with permission.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
Establish a presence for yourselves on decentralized, federated media alternatives that can resist censorship like PeerTube, Mastodon, Friendica, etc. Do it now while it’s easy; if you wait until the major monopolies to abruptly shut the lights off on you to make your move it’s going to be much more painful. This censorship is only going to get worse.
We need to boycott YouTube and Google until this gets fixed. And while we’re doing that, we have to find alternatives to both so that we no longer have need of them.
All your links in the story seem to go to Twitter. I was banned from Twitter indefinitely about two years ago for speaking out against Trump. I was also constantly suspended from Facebook and YouTube for the same reason. If people want to be available to all people, they need to offer they’re platform off of just Twitter. It’s sad to think that “blogging” is being replaced by platforms that actually ban and block people from communicating with those they get information from. I understand most “social media” is free for its users so it’s an ideal option to get your message out, it’s a shame many people will not be allowed to be part of this.
The inherent weakness of censorship and deplatforming is that Big Tech does not own the Internet. The more they censor and deplatform people, the more the these same people move on to alternative social media sites. MeWe gained 2.7 million new users last week. How many new users did Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube gain? The truth is their user base has been declining as the techno-fascists become more and more authoritarian.
If you currently use their services it would be a smart move to have backup accounts elsewhere. Q Anon has accounts on every alternative social media site I’ve checked. When YouTwitFace deplatformed the Q community it advertised the brand and it advertised alternative social media. Q was not inconvenienced in the least.
Caitlin Johnstone, with her usual incisive brilliance, highlights one of the most urgent issues today, namely controlling the ever increasing power of Big Tech.
Big Tech has just proved itself powerful enough to shut down an American president, albeit an unpopular one in his last days, with attendant risks to free speech and democracy (this even causing Merkel, López Obrador and the French to complain).
Not just content to hoover up virtually all private data of citizens, who insouciantly permit this to happen, Big Tech is setting itself up as the final inquisitor and arbiter of “truth” and permitted speech.
Controlling Big Tech will be a Herculean task and needs someone with the forceful personality and trust-busting inclinations of a Theodore Roosevelt (or, failing that, a Lenin or Castro).
One of the preceding commenters said the solution is to nationalize Big Tech and run it for the public good. But this is unlikely to happen anytime in the next decades in the USA. Anyway, who is to decide what the “public good” is? – I wouldn’t trust our political overlords one iota in this regard.
An alternative – with good precedent – is to transform the major platforms into regulated industries – like the phone companies, which don’t have the right to cancel phone calls or delete subscribers if they don’t like the content of conversations.
The third alternative is the free market variant – just leaving the current platforms and taking one’s business elsewhere. The platforms are not natural monopolies in the sense of the electric grid, which is economically impossible to duplicate – they are simply very attractive to users and content-creators by reason of the vast user base and good functionality.
Given the close ties between the Biden Administration and Big Tech, there will be no serious attempts to curtail the power of Big Tech anytime soon and the censorship will get continually worse and worse. In fact, the censorship is one fist in the control of public speech; the other fist being active disinformation (where the British are again the tip of the spear, through the Orwellian-named “Integrity Initiative” and other programs).
Accordingly there is only one solution now – the free market solution – namely to take one’s custom elsewhere.
A promising initial attempt is the “Rokfin” platform, which various independent vloggers are successfully using. Another, Panquake – which seems to be an alternative to Twitter – is now under development. But the technology needs to be robust and not rely on Big Tech for cloud storage or other services, given that if there is any “mass migration” away from the Big Tech platforms the Empire will strike back hard. Witness the recent concerted deplatforming of Parler by Amazon Web Services (which cancelled the platform’s hosing services) with Apple and Google (which removed Parler’s mobile app from their app stores).
But the migration needs to begin and begin soon. (There are good alternatives to most, if not all, the Big Tech programs. One doesn’t need an Apple device, and there are also “degoogled” Android (or Android fork) devices, which do not send one’s personal data to Cupertino or Mountain View. For example, Purism from the USA and /e/ from France. There are very good, open source alternatives to almost every app and browser.)
Probably the main reason why consumers love “Big Tech” products like “gmail”, Twitter, Facebook – and the reason why these products became so amazingly successful – is that they are FREE, and people love freebies. But they aren’t free at all – and people need to recognize this.
In an interview with the vlogger “The Hated One”, Tristan Nitot – CEO of the privacy browser “Qwant” and former head of Mozilla Europe – made the following analogy: The users of gmail, Twitter and Facebook consider themselves to be “customers” of the respective Big Tech companies. But this is like considering cows to be “customers” of the farmer – and obviously the idea of cows being “customers” is ridiculous. But the gmail, Twitter and Facebook users aren’t customers at all – they’re the cows, which instead of providing milk are blithely turning over all their personal data to be monetized by the Big Tech giants.
First they came for conservative commentary, and you didn’t care. Then they came for “ you”. Now you actually care and cry censorship. Welcome to the club.
Killing President Kennedy
All War is Evil
Yes, I agree with Caitlin. This is censorship. But it is of the most insidious kind. Governments don’t have to censor people because they have private corporations to do it. These corporations have no constitutional limitations on what they can do against speech by citizens. They are in this regard outside of the law.
But to make it worse, these corporations like Google are de-facto government agencies. They were created with CIA start up money via the CIA’s investment corporation In-Q-Tel. And they have massive contracts with the CIA, NSA and other government agencies to provide information and intelligence. The amount of money they earn from government contracts makes they quasi government agencies. In the last few decades, the US government has contracted out its work to private companies in huge ways. The NSA is basically a collection of private contractors. Same for Homeland Security.
So we will be left with only a government controlled information system. Freedom of information is essential to democracy. It is clear that we don’t have any freedom of information any more. And it looks like this was the intent of the web all along. After all, it was the creation of the Defense Department.
Techno-Totalitarian Finance Capitalism.
The electromagnetic spectrum is privatized and monopolized by a few mega-corporations. These corporations own each other’s stock. It is one big oligopoly/oligarchy. To make it worse, trillions of QE cash is available for the banks and parasite funds (“hedge funds”) to jack up stock prices and pay themselves billions. Add stock buy-backs and other institutional corruption and this is what we get.
The politicians enabled this, they legally take bribes from the oligarchy. (See Citizens United case)
It is simply not possible to have freedom of speech, freedom of the press or democracy with this perverse system. It seems obvious to me.
Most folks worship the Techno-Totalitarian Oligarchy, is it a form of collective Stockholm Syndrome?
The solution is to bring social media into public ownership and run it for the public good, not for profit. It’s pointless decrying the censorship of a privately-owned corporation which has no duty to publish anything it doesn’t want. The longer we leave YouTube, Facebook et al as cash cows for a few, the worse the restrictions on our ability to communicate will be.
I agree. We need a PBS of the internet. I even hate the term “social media.” It leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.
I think there are other media platforms out there—Bitchute?
Honestly, people should be boycotting Youtube and also getting a big class-action suit going.
Plus drive to nationalize Youtube.
Youtube profits from the airwaves owned by the the people of the United States.
It sends signals through the air. This alone should make it subject to the FCC or some other segment of the govt.
Where are our “liberal” Democrats on this?
Sorry to say that anyone who was in favor of canceling Donald Trump or Marjorie Taylor Greene or Alex Jones or any other “extremist” or Qanon person has only him- or herself to blame for the metastasis of the censorship cancer.
Censorship is a cancer. It is growing. You heard it here first.
J.S. — the problem with your solution is that what public agency would run the social media websites? They are all just as corrupt as Google. There is no agency of government that would run anything in the “public interest” or for the “public good.”
Your premise is correct. Private companies cannot be held responsible for constitutional rights.
My solution is the constant creation of new and freer sites to replace Youtube, Facebook, and the rest. The example of Parler replacing Twitter is on point. Parler is coming back in a few days. But it will be compromised and something will have to replace it. As to Facebook, it is old and wearing out. Kids don’t use it any more. They turn to other social media. In another decade, Facebook will be gone or insignificant.
Public ownership? Of the Commonwealth State of Tuvalu? I guess a cooperative ownership is needed, after all, YouTube merely wants to be in good graces of (a) key state(s).
That is a huge big-picture solution that will likely require the seizure of a powerful state (in the event they simply move their servers elsewhere) or full revolution. In the mean time, we can fight back with decentralized media federations attempting to rebuild how the internet was originally supposed to function. Have a look at the fediverse.party, which itself now triggers an auto-delete filter in Youtube comments sections.
Thank you Caitlin. A free press and free speech are at risk if these journalist are demonetized. Only vague statements are provided by youtube to the content creators. A Kafkaesque (The Trial) strategy that can be frustratingly difficult to defend against. This censorship is spreading. CGTN has been removed from being broadcast in the UK by offcom.
The other problem with this is that those of us on the left, based on reporting in the mainstream media, can often feel that we are alone in our views, or at least, part of a tiny isolated minority. Sure, every once in a while we find ourselves in a room with just plain folks, a spontaneous conversation with strangers or near strangers, and are astonished to hear that everyone is appalled at the slaughter in Yemen, or thinks that the Democratic Party is, at best, no better than the Republicans, or opposes the incarceration and extradition of Assange, or, whatever… and it gives us hope, reminds us that we are part of a community who are not deceived. That we are of the many.
When these voices on the left with a platform on social media are silenced, it harms us all by increasing the debilitating sense of being a tiny voice in the wilderness.
Any private corporation will be less than happy that uppity members of the public use its commercial product to promote anti-capitalist propaganda, so it’s no surprise that YouTube or any other social media entity censors its content to remove anything scaring the advertisers or shareholders.
To me, the issue shouldn’t be whether it’s a surprise or not, but that it should be vigorously resisted. From an advertising standpoint, it is really easy to control the channels or type of channel you advertise on, so this isn’t an advertiser-driven push. It’s coming from somewhere else. I think this is consensus push for censorship at all levels for which the social media platforms are complying to protect themselves.
Correct. It is the tactic of SMALL PARTS ISOLATED AND DESTROYED.