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.

29 Comments
  • Stefan Molyneux does not engage in hate speech. His videos are exercises in logic, critical thinking and rational discussion. They often question/counter what is being pushed by MSM and globalist agenda, but he is not a racist or white supremacist. My guess is Stefan Molyneux was gaining too large of a following and opening people's eyes to what is really going on, and YouTube/Google pulled the plug. Censorship in any form is an infringement of liberty, and anyone who encourages censorship is supporting their own censorship (eventually).
  • "Rational thinker"=person who agrees with my personal beliefs. I remember when "literally" meant "literally"... Good times.
  • Agreed on the censorship part (less on the conspiracy part), but isnt Youtube allowed, as a private platform, to exercise their own rules? After all, porn and a whole lot of other things arent allowed. Surely if the market is in search of a particular type of 'speech', then there should be platforms elsewhere (as Im sure there are) for those people. Their eyes would be opened the same way, none of it would be cut and they would be free to grow large. I dont think it is Youtube's job to open people's eyes. Unless it is somehow ruled that Youtube has a monopoly as a speech platform.
  • Um, he is LITERALLY a white supremacist and regularly spouts incredibly hateful things - his basic stance is that the holocaust was fundamentally justified but “Somewhat of an overreaction.” There is no way to justify that other than call it what it is - hate speech. His views on various races are false and warped and espouse hateful rhetoric. So I really don’t care if you choose to *agree* with that stuff - that is your ‘liberty’ - but at least have the intellectual honesty to accept what you (and Molyneux) are - racists and white supremacists.
  • Stefan? I didn't know you were signed up here at AC.
  • Boy you really slurped down that kool-aid.
  • He is a white supremacist. He couches his hate speech in the clothes of "logic, critical thinking and rational discussion" to groom the young and confused.
  • And the galactly stupid!
  • If a person happens to be white and has differing views from the left they're automatically a white supremacist. Most of the people spouting that term can't even spell it. I find it interesting that YouTube is okay with all the racist statements and attacks towards white people.
  • And you're fine with this Steven Molyneux guy spouting racist views towards non white people. I take it you're one of those people who didn't like that Twitter hid Dirty Donnie's tweet that incited violence. You people are 21th century Nazis.
  • No one should be fine with that, and YouTube should ban views like that no matter which direction they go. It's all stupid anyways when you have a basic understanding of genetics and history. We're all related. Every DNA sequence can be traced back to the same original set of humans, in Africa.
  • The problem is that under the banner of ridding YouTube of hate speech, cases of censorship have increased many fold. And that is worrisome. Oftentimes the net is cast wide and cannot differentiate. I certainly wouldn't want the government controlling freedom of speech and expression. Even less so a corporation.
  • you can choose a different corporation.
  • I don't want to.
  • Too bad. Your desire to have YouTube host content they don’t want to host doesn’t matter.
  • And neither does your opinion. Since they are all like a**holes and we all have one. See how that goes? How about I report you for harrassment, or racist speech. Or pounce on your innate bigotry and inherent white supremacy. That is how easily you can get into trouble. People always profess their love for freedom of expression and speech, as long as it doesn't offend their sensibilities or contradicts their worldview. As long they are spoonfed the same drivel they are accustomed to, they don't complain. It's harder to be willing to listen to different points of view, ideas, thoughts and idelogies, even when you revile or despise them. If you and the person above had any notion of that you wouldn't have posted the bland and easy-out replies. You want to see what the absence of all those freedoms and liberties looks like. Pay attention to what China is doing to Hong Kong...
  • Yes Utube HAD the right to control what was put up on their system. They gave up that right when they (with others) hustled the gov into making law protecting them from spreading disinformation. If they want to choose what I hear and see. Then they need to be libel (just like me and you) when they spread lies and junk science. For now, of course, all we need do is turn them off AND not buy products sold on their site. But that still leaves them spreading THEIR slop to the masses. Oh well.
  • This is the part people don't understand. They are either a platform with explicit rules (that are applied consistently across the board), or are a publisher and can do whatever they want with the content, but they can't hide behind the libel laws protection. Another thing most people don't understand, there is not such a thing as hate speech. Well, that is, unless you truly know someone's opinion or views come from a place of hate. I'm sure I may have views/opinions people do not like, but they are 100% not coming from a place of hate, nor do they incite others to hate things or people based on those views. You can ascribed ignorance, lack of wisdom, wrong perspective, you should not ascribe motives, because we can't see what's on people's heart. We would less divided if people would just call someone's opinion flawed as supposed to attribute a hateful motive. Ironically, it is not the white supremacists that are dividing us, but the people who supposedly think they fight against that.
  • I see somebody didn't like my now-deleted comment about a certain racist liberal channel being given a pass. I guess the Armenian Genocide never happened.
  • Poison. Ban it.
  • This is the last visit I ever make to Koolaid Central. If I want to read regurgitated left-wing nonsense, I'll just head to CNN. This is SUPPOSED to be a tech site!!
  • I don't like censorship. Sunlight is always the best disinfectant.
  • I find it amazingly ignorant that anyone debates which "race" is superior to another...because...are we not all members of the HUMAN race? Can we not all bring forth children no matter the color of our skin? The idea that the color of your skin makes a HUMAN of a different race is simply unscientific! End of discussion!
  • I enjoy watching Americans cite "global" in the same paragraph they whip out the very American-only 1st Amendment. In Canada, you can say whatever you like, at home. You can't say whatever you want in public, on private services like YouTube, etc. We Canadians enjoy Freedom of Expression which grants us protection from criticizing Government but with that freedom comes rules regarding libel, hate speech, racism, fraudulent remarks, inciting criminal behaviour, etc, etc, etc. The premise is simple, your right to say something does not trump my right to not hear it. And that is how it is in most of the "free" nations of the world. I wonder how many of the folks that are crying foul over YouTube refusing to service certain customers also support Colorado baker Jack Phillips who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2012?
  • So it’s free speech as long as no one is offended by what you say? I’ll stick with our first amendment.
  • YouTube is a corporation. Don't like their rules? Move to another platform or create your own.
  • There are different kinds of censorship. The kind YouTube is doing has never worked out in the past. It always ends up getting abused far worse than the bad content it was originally designed to censor. I prefer more speech, not less. If someone truly is espousing a bad idea, then there will be a thousand rebuttals eloquently and decisively refuting it.
  • "He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion... Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to heathem from persons who actually believe them...he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form." -- John Stuart Mills, "On Liberty" That should be the guiding principle in the West, especially at a time when Democracy is under siege, while civil liberties and freedoms are being continually curtailed around the world. It should be especially true for all those progressives and social justice warriors screaming loudly at the top of their lungs about how they want to rectify all the wrongs in the world, that is in-between running CHADS, looting, robbing, burning, destroying and deciding whose lives are more important than others... But that would be too much to ask...
  • The slight problem with that is, despite claiming you're not anti-censorship, all you'd have to do when citing why "I don't like this person" is move the goalposts a tiny bit on to "well, this paid for site doesn't have to host this person", "this site maker doesn't have to host that person". There are many free platforms out there, and paid ones. Move the goalposts to any of the free ones and yes, you are indeed wanting anyone who doesn't agree with you and your values censored. Happy to have cleared this up for you. ^.^