How Fascists are using Youtube to Spread Hate
A recent report from Data and Society found that Youtube has become a powerful tool for groups spreading hate on the internet. The study found that Youtube’s video recommendation algorithm played an important role in aiding the spread of hate speech on the platform. However, the biggest pathway which leads users into Youtube’s darker waters is an influential network of scholars, media pundits and internet celebrities who promote each other’s content. Their ideas range widely in terms of extremism, but the effect this network is to quickly pull normal Youtube users towards increasingly radical content. Video creators in this network with less radical ideas will host and promote outright White Nationalists, who will hold openly racist conversations with them on their shows unchallenged.
Those using Youtube to spread hate also know how to tiptoe around Youtube’s current community guidelines so that their videos are not removed. Even overt Neo-Nazis will avoid using racial slurs in their videos, instead using language which masks the violent ideas and hateful themes contained within their content. Through memes, cross-promotion, and classic marketing techniques, hate groups are able to spread their content with great efficiency on Youtube. Even children are being exposed to hate on the platform. While a recent policy change has disallowed videos the company identifies as hateful from running ads, Youtube should follow its own community guidelines by removing this content all together.
As the New Zealand mosque shooting has shown us, the consequences of online radicalization towards hateful ideologies are deadly. Recently platforms such as Facebook have taken increasingly aggressive stances against the rampant hate speech on their platforms. The time has come for Youtube to do the same. The kind of hate being spread unchallenged on Youtube is a blatant violation of the website’s own terms of service and should be treated as such. There is no reason the platform should not prioritize enforcing it’s hate speech policy with the same strictness as it enforces copyright violations.