Monday, January 12, 2009

YouTube (and Google) violating free speech? Part 1

First off, this is my first blog, so let me first say hello. My name is Aaron, and I am the sole owner and artist behind the adult cartoon site I am also in a band named Brethren and the Evil Empire along with my brother, who is a big help with the music side of things. And I have over 6 million video views on YouTube. But I digress...

Before I get into this YouTube criticism, I want to make it perfectly clear that I realize YouTube is not a gov't entity, and therefore can't really violate my free speech rights; I get it. Still, with talk of net neutrality, and Google's burgeoning net monopoly (Google Search, YouTube, gmail), there is a disturbing trend of censorship emerging, whether you look at it from the angle of my cartoons (which are maybe PG-13 as they appear on YouTube, with the exception of language) to religious examples such as Koran verses and Pro-Life messages (I am not a Muslim, nor a pro-lifer, but people still have a right to communicate their religious views and civic opinions).

I've had a vid yanked off YouTube about once every six months for the two plus years I've had an account there. I have about 150 videos, most of which are sexy cartoons, so it's not shocking, if you know YouTube's track record. But I try very hard to stay within the TOS of YouTube. So when I had a vid removed last Thanksgiving that was no different than the 100+ that were still on the site, I was pissed and delivered an anti-YouTube rant via my flagship character, Ace the Zombie.

To my surprise, YouTube left the Ace rant up (it didn't violate TOS, after all), even though it was very, very anti-YouTube. But that was it; I was done posting anything to YouTube for six months (the time it takes before your violation is erased from your account). That whole episode was over a month ago.

So what did YouTube do next? It removed "Harriett Potter and the Wand of Breast Expansion Part 2," a video that had been on YouTube for months and months and is very cartoonish, to the point I did the girls' voices in it (ala South Park, I suppose). There was no nudity, just some cartoons boobs' getting bigger under their clothes. You know, kind of like "Harriett Potter and the Wand of Breast Expansion Part 1", which is still on YouTube.

Now the threat from YouTube is accompanied by a condition. I have to accept that I violated the terms and then wait two weeks before I post anything new. And if I have another violation in six months, my entire account and 150+ vids will be deleted.

So I'm not pulling the "poor me" card - there's always DailyMotion - and the less I can show on viral video sites the more I can talk up, which is a pay site.

But that's not the point; consider these questions:

  • What else is being censored (a.k.a. removed) by YouTube/Google/Blogger? Why?
  • Whose accounts are being deleted from YouTube and Blogger? Why?
  • Will YouTube start removing videos that criticize its practices or its parent company? Blogs like this one that do the same?
  • Will Google and YouTube start filtering searches? (They virtually already do because of what was called Payola in the radio industry.)
  • Where does it end?
  • Does Google start making Microsoft look fair when it comes to market competition?
I'm sure my dirty little cartoon website and Pro-Lifers and Muslims and the rest have very little in common when it comes to M.O., but we are allies in this. Censored or uncensored; video watcher or video owner; blogger or blog reader; dirty or clean; sexy or religious - we have to stand together against this latest monopoly that has risen as the greatest threat to freedom of speech in my lifetime (even if we have to use said monopoly to communicate our point to a larger audience).

Crap... Can't Google just buy all of us now and save us the anxiety?

Part 2 will focus on what we can do about this whole mess...

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