YouTube banning hate speech isn't censorship, it's the bare minimum

YouTube Axon 10 Pro
YouTube Axon 10 Pro (Image credit: Jason England / Android Central)

YouTube has banned channels owned by Stefan Molyneux, Richard Spencer, David Duke, and others today for violating the company's 2019 rules about hate speech. In a message to The Verge, a YouTube spokesperson said these channels were banned because they repeatedly alleged that protected groups were inferior.

YouTube has strict policies governing hateful speech, and after updating its rules in 2019 to "better address supremacist content" over 25,000 channels have been removed from the service.

As expected, the offenders aren't taking this lightly. Spencer suggests that "this seems to be part of a systematic, coordinated effort" and Molyneux states that YouTube "just suspended the largest philosophy conversation the world has ever known."

I don't know anything about any coordinated effort and have never taken part in a global philosophy conversation. But I do know that I don't like censorship and I still think YouTube did the right thing.

I don't want to see any speech censored, even if it's something I'm not going to listen to.

I don't agree with anything the likes of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke or his compatriots have to say about other folks. I can see how it could be very hurtful to people who have heard it and wish people like this didn't exist. That's my opinion, and I know others who share it. But I would never want to see their speech be censored. The speech that needs to be protected is the speech you do not like hearing. But YouTube should not be forced to host their hateful content.

YouTube exists as an entertainment platform where creators can share content that people want to watch. I'm sure there are people who want to watch white supremacists, but YouTube should not be forced to host content it has deemed inappropriate.

Since everything devolves into politics, this has already turned into a right versus left internet war. But it shouldn't. YouTube has banned channels that promoted ISIS, or taught people how to build incendiary devices, or videos fundraising for Black Lives Matters incorrectly, and neither side complained because almost everyone felt they had no place on the service. But that's not why they were banned; it was because they violated Youtube's terms of service.

Free speech has consequences, like being kicked off of a free advertiser-driven platform.

YouTube is a private, for-profit organization. It shapes its policy in the best interest of advertisers because that's where its profit comes from. It's obvious that these advertisers aren't very keen on videos that are misogynistic, supremacist, or promote violence or illegal activity. That's because most of YouTube's viewers aren't keen on watching those videos and there's probably a ton of data that shows it because YouTube collects metrics like who watches what and how long they watch it.

As stated above, I don't care for censorship, and people should be free to express even hateful ideas. But those people shouldn't complain when others don't care to hear it, or if that speech isn't happily promoted on a free service because they are also subject to the consequences of their speech.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.