Commentary

YouTube's Stance On Violent Trump Video Alarms Journalists

A CNN report that YouTube doesn't object to a video that's been digitally altered to depict President Trump killing his critics and media outlets should be dismaying to journalists. The video is considered a parody, and I'm not laughing.

The extremely graphic video was taken from a stupid movie called "Kingsman: The Secret Service," and shows Trump's face superimposed on a character who shoots, stabs and punches people in a church. Their heads were replaced with logos of news organizations and political movements, like Blacks Lives Matter.

The video had been on YouTube and Facebook for more than a year, and only received attention after The New York Times reported it was played at a conference hosted by a pro-Trump group. The president condemned the video, but the statement rings hollow amid his past remarks that the press is the "enemy of the people."

It's worrisome that YouTube doesn't object to a video that condones the killing of the thousands of people who work at media organizations. A company spokesperson said the video is clearly fictional, and only merits an age restriction to dissuade kids from watching it, CNN reported.

While I clearly support First Amendment freedoms, I also believe that media platforms like YouTube have a responsibility to limit the distribution of user-generated content that glamorizes violence against a specific group of people. It should be obvious to anyone that Trump isn't actually committing the atrocities depicted in the video, but such an argument also misses the point. 

The free press is facing a grave existential threat as newspapers go out of business, foreign governments censor the work of U.S. media companies and journalists are routinely jailed or even killed while doing their jobs. I hope the video doesn't inspire unstable people to attack journalists, but I'm prepared to be disappointed.

In its race to boost engagement, YouTube urges the spread of shocking imagery, controversial misinformation and extremist content. The platform trains teens to gain a following by oversexualizing themselves in videos, making the platform a magnet for pedophiles and other predators. Garbage goes into YouTube, and garbage comes out.

The Trump video is another sign that YouTube's parent organizations, Google and Alphabet, don’t have any respect for journalism.

Google may claim it is helping to organize all the information on the internet, but it shows a remarkable indifference to whether the data is factual. Garbage goes into Google, and garbage comes out.

Search rankings are based on obscure algorithms incapable of independently confirming facts by doing real journalism. They end up recycling the same misinformation that appears elsewhere. Perhaps Google gives a higher ranking to some news organizations, but that assumes those sources are unbiased and reliable.

After all, Google isn't an independent watchdog of the media, nor of anything else.

3 comments about "YouTube's Stance On Violent Trump Video Alarms Journalists".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 16, 2019 at 8:16 a.m.

    They are just begging to be regulated---and/or broken up---aren't they?

  2. Daniel Wheeler from Republican American, October 16, 2019 at 9:46 a.m.

    So a movie where a person kills a bunch of people in a church, is OK unless they are journalists?   
    Where was the outrage of the violence in the original movie?

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, October 16, 2019 at 11:05 a.m.

    Nothing is free. Freedom isn't free. We must pay for this freedom with a form of regulation or freedom will be gone. 

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