To avoid accusations of bias and censorship, platforms are trying to find middle ground with regards to freedom of expression and discouraging harmful content. The latest decision to make certain videos available on platforms but not promoted is a reasonable compromise from a practical perspective.
Before Google bought YouTube for $1.65B, they were inclined to offer a price in the tens of millions of dollars. Before long, they ended up paying a ton more. Why? One reason was that YouTube was trouncing everyone, including Google Video. Another reason was that YouTube had grown into the second largest search engine (behind Google), and it posed a long term existential threat after Google had won search thanks to a perfect storm in the early 2000s.
As such, while Facebook today won social and unearths and serves up content via feed, when discussing YouTube’s policies wrt free speech and censorship, it’s important to look at how users discover and recover content. They may see something elsewhere and will go to Google.com or YouTube.com (and for more real time searches, Twitter) and search away, hoping to recover info they are seeking. But in doing so, they also discover new things. Discovery is mainly done via YouTube’s related videos, on the right hand side of the main video player.
Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter – all Bay area tech firms, in fact – hate human interaction and things that don’t scale. In their quest for maximum network effects and scale, they turn to robots, machine, artificial intelligence and ultimately balance i) confidence interval with ii) margin of error.
Good enough is fine?
Tech firms have long hid behind the DMCA and Telecommunications Act and relied on safe harbors, claiming that as platforms, they should not be responsible for what’s posted, as opposed to publishers.
I realize many critics won’t find this to be good enough, but from a practical perspective, unless something is totally egregious, I think that for YouTube to ensure something isn’t actively returned in search results or promoted via the Related Videos section is a good enough solution and compromise. It’s definitely better than encouraging such content to appear on platforms like Parler or elsewhere where there will be even less oversight and regulation.