“We have four freedoms under which YouTube operates: freedom of expression, freedom of opportunity, freedom to belong and freedom of information,” Kyncl said, reiterating comments he made to YouTuber Casey Neistat in February. “They truly become our North Star during difficult times. For me, having come from a place that didn’t have freedom of information and freedom of expression, they’re extremely important. Our message is that we absolutely are leaning in to freedom of information and freedom of expression, subject to our community guidelines.
“We don’t intend to be on one side or another.”
YouTube was first accused of trying to “purge” right-wing voices in early March, after notable conservative pundits, gun advocates, conspiracy channels and other right-wing voices received community strikes or were locked out of their channels. YouTube addressed the concerns, telling Bloomberg that new moderators “may misapply some of our policies resulting in mistaken removals.” YouTube’s team then rectified those mistakes, removing strikes from creators that were given strikes, like the pro-gun Military Arms Channel.
Things only amplified in following weeks, however, as some of the right-wing’s loudest voices, like Alex Jones, declared that YouTube was waging war on conservative content.
Even though YouTube hasn’t outright banned any of the critics speaking out about the platform reportedly purging their content, it hasn’t stopped people from accusing the company of censorship. The fact remains, however, there’s often little validity to their accusations. Jones, for example, received two community guideline strikes against his channel after he published videos wherein he alleged that some of the more outspoken survivors of the Parkland school shooting in Florida were crisis actors.
YouTube didn’t issue a community guideline strike because of his views; Jones received the strike because his content violated the company’s guidelines on cyberbullying and harassment. The company’s policies state that creators cannot make “hurtful and negative comments/videos about another person,” which Jones’ videos did. Controversial creators are now seeking out alternative platforms as a way to bypass the company’s guidelines and policies.
Polygon has reached out to YouTube for further comment and will update if more information becomes available.