Okay, unless you’ve been camping in the woods where there’s blissfully been no cell coverage, a war has been raging on free speech, specifically free speech over the YouTube. Front and center of this war over words, mean or not mean, those of us at Louder with Crowder. Namely the Crowder. Frankly, this war has been coming for years, so count us not at all surprised it splattered itself like a cowpie right on our front doorstep. In efforts to double down on the war against free speech, specifically free speech over the YouTube, fellow First Amendment-users, The New York Times, used their First Amendment rights to lob free speech bombs other people and entities expressing their free speech. But rather than being honest, writer Kevin Roose hid behind a favorite tool of the left: accusing the right of “radicalizing” some poor innocent fluff lemming who was just minding his own business when wham, he watched thousands of hours of YouTube personalities dabbled with crazy. What should we do now? Do something about the messenger, in this case, YouTube.
You think I’m making this up? Hardly. Let’s roll tape on this silliness:
Mr. Cain, 26, recently swore off the alt-right nearly five years after discovering it, and has become a vocal critic of the movement. He is scarred by his experience of being radicalized by what he calls a “decentralized cult” of far-right YouTube personalities, who convinced him that Western civilization was under threat from Muslim immigrants and cultural Marxists, that innate I.Q. differences explained racial disparities, and that feminism was a dangerous ideology.
Did you see that sleight of hand? Allow me: writer Kevin Roose and Caleb Cain (the poor, innocent little muffin who got sucked into the vortex through no fault of his own) equated the alt-right with just… mainstream conservatism with a few nasty tricks. Western civilization isn’t under threat from Muslim immigrants, but radical Islam which wants to institute Sharia law. The same Sharia law that advocates female genital mutilation, throwing gays off of buildings, and killing infidels. Also, yes, Marxism is rather a problem for those of us who value freedom and capitalism. Cornerstones of western civilization. The higher IQ stuff does get a bit contentious, but we have addressed it in a video. Third wave feminism, the same feminism which champions killing babies, is a dangerous ideology. Especially for said babies killed.
But let’s move on.
Over years of reporting on internet culture, I’ve heard countless versions of Mr. Cain’s story: an aimless young man — usually white, frequently interested in video games — visits YouTube looking for direction or distraction and is seduced by a community of far-right creators.
Before I continue, yes the premise of this entire article is based on one random dude who spent too much time on YouTube. That’s it. I’m super serious about this. Somehow I don’t think if I pitched an idea to Steven like “Hey, I want to write about a random dude on the internet who watched a lot of Trevor Noah and Adam Ruins Everything vidoes and now he’s protesting on behalf of Planned Parenthood, so we should complain about YouTube changing its algorithms” would sell. In fact I see it not going over well at all. But we’ll get back to that point after I show you more of the written word pellets scattered all over this supposedly serious publication.
And yes, I understand the point of resting the narrative of your article on one person to illustrate and personalize your message. But it’s still stupid to bitch about a certain segment of YouTube creators based on the internet activity of a dude.
“There’s a spectrum on YouTube between the calm section — the Walter Cronkite, Carl Sagan part — and Crazytown, where the extreme stuff is,” said Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google, YouTube’s parent company. “If I’m YouTube and I want you to watch more, I’m always going to steer you toward Crazytown.”
Now in fairness, what would you rather be entertained by?
- Watch this totally rational video where everything turns out fine, narrated by that guy from Ferris Bueller
- Celebrity without Make-Up Scratched by Feral Cats!
Don’t lie to me.
This aforementioned paragraph is followed by this:
“Shock-jock antics” is a nice touch. It’s a parody video. You tell me which is more shocking: Steven pretending to be a bill as “a Jill” or a dude wearing a dress, holding his John Thomas while peeing next to your daughter.
But let’s move on.
YouTube, whose rules prohibit hate speech and harassment, took a more laissez-faire approach to enforcement for years. This past week, the company announced that it was updating its policy to ban videos espousing neo-Nazism, white supremacy and other bigoted views. The company also said it was changing its recommendation algorithm to reduce the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories.
This theme is recurring. See, since some people use a free speech platform to spread ideas Kevin Roose doesn’t like, YouTube is responsible to cut down on those ideas Kevin Roose doesn’t like. Remember, Kevin Roose is using his free speech to spread the idea that a free speech platform (or so YouTube may think it is) should police speech.
Here’s the crux of why social media boomed:
In reality, YouTube has been a godsend for hyper-partisans on all sides. It has allowed them to bypass traditional gatekeepers and broadcast their views to mainstream audiences, and has helped once-obscure commentators build lucrative media businesses.
Yes, and one reason the right has done as well as it has on YouTube is that the gatekeepers are left-wing nuts: Rachel Maddow, Brian Stelter, Brooke Baldwin, Chris Cuomo, Jim Acosta, well everyone at CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC etcetera. So when people were given a platform where they could circumvent the fascist gatekeepers with criminally bad haircuts, suddenly people flocked to content that wasn’t left-wing. This isn’t rocket science. Kevin Roose even included a graph showing all the “right-wing” content poor innocent Caleb Cain watched all because YouTube recommended he watch. Imagine being chained to a chair forced to watch things on YouTube. I shudder at the thought.
Supply and demand. There was a demand for right-wing content because outside of a few channels that weren’t overtly left-wing and Rush Limbaugh, there was really no such thing as right-wing content until social media provided that platform. Which is, of course, what people like Kevin Roose who work for the old guard media like The New York Times, hates.
Kevin Roose spends paragraph after paragraph going over the many algorithms changes YouTube has made in order to both keep people on YouTube and giving those people content they’ll likely watch to keep them on YouTube, which resulted in people like Caleb Cain watching more content similar to what he’d already watched.
I can’t believe I have to defend YouTube here, but serving people content they’ll likely want in order to keep them watching and thus serve them more ads, is kind of what businesses do. Now we can argue over the ethics of it, sure, but YouTube trying to give you what you want isn’t inherently bad. You’re still free to TURN IT OFF, search for your own content, or TURN IT OFF.
Still, not policing content seems to irk Kevin Roose:
But YouTube’s changes again played into the hands of far-right creators, many of whom already specialized in creating videos that introduced viewers to new ideas. They knew that a video calling out left-wing bias in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” might red-pill movie buffs, or that a gamer who ranted about feminism while streaming his Call of Duty games might awaken other politically minded gamers. And now YouTube’s algorithm was looking to promote the same kind of cross-genre exploration.
Emphasis mine because it explains why certain videos beat the algorithms: NEW IDEAS.
Yet no matter what YouTube did to its algorithm, people kept finding the content they wanted to see. Because they couldn’t find it anywhere else. Because that content was new and not being blocked by gatekeepers.
I feel like I’m repeating myself.
The officials stressed, however, that YouTube realized it had a responsibility to combat misinformation and extreme content.
“While we’ve made good progress, our work here is not done, and we will continue making more improvements this year,” a YouTube spokesman, Farshad Shadloo, said in a statement.
When a platform starts deciding what content is “misinformation” and what content is “extreme” then determines what goes out and what doesn’t, I think that platform ceases to be a platform and becomes a publisher. A publisher is something like The New York Times where an editor decides what content goes out and what content doesn’t. A platform is supposed to be a free for all.
But here’s the best part about Roose’s article, and it comes at the end:
Near the end of our interview, I told Mr. Cain that I found it odd that he had successfully climbed out of a right-wing YouTube rabbit hole, only to jump into a left-wing YouTube rabbit hole. I asked if he had considered cutting back on his video intake altogether, and rebuild some of his offline relationships.
The same dude we started with, who got sucked into a YouTube vortex through not fault of his own, seemingly unable to turn off this scary glow box with buttons, not only made it out of the same vortex which nearly claimed his life, but was able to find… balance. Yes, he jumped from one hole into another hole because as it turns out when people are free to say what they want, they do. When people are free to give their ideas, they’re also free to debate those ideas.
Gosh, it’s almost like a self-correcting “problem.”
The point of the First Amendment is to talk, to spread ideas, to get exposed to ideas you don’t like, and if you don’t like them, to offer ideas of your own. I’m using this website, which is a publisher and not a platform by the way, to combat Kevin Roose’s stupid ideas which he published in The New York Times. Kevin Roose has just as much of a right to take himself so seriously when writing about one dude on the internet as I do making fun of him taking himself so seriously for one piece based upon the internet activity of one dude on the internet.
I likely won’t be the only person to combat Kevin Roose’s New York Times article. We’re using the internet platform to debate ideas. I want Kevin Roose to continue spewing dumb things. I want people to see how the left wants to police speech it doesn’t like by silencing it and hiding it, rather than debating it with its own ideas.
The left can’t stand to debate with their own ideas. On the whole, their ideas blow.
What I don’t want is for people like Kevin Roose and The New York Times to be successful in their soft pitches to move companies like YouTube to silence people and entities they find “problematic.” Free speech only works if all speech is free. If we’re going to police some of it, it’s not free speech. If we’re going to police speech, we then also have to decide who gets to police it depending on who’s in power.
A scary thought for another time.