Amid public pressure, YouTube has rolled out new efforts to clean up its platform and remove toxic rhetoric and conspiracy theories. Unsurprisingly, some of the site’s most extreme right-wing content creators are not happy.
In recent days, YouTube has levied community guideline strikes against channels belonging to Infowars conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, YouTube “bloodsports” host Andy Warski and alt-right flunky Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet, all of whom have been banned from live streaming content on the platform for 90 days. Infowars leader Alex Jones is one strike away from having his channel suspended from YouTube. Self-described “classical liberal” Carl Benjamin, who is known online as “Sargon of Akkad” and whose attempts at debate have only served to embolden the far-right claimed that he was locked out of his Google account without notice and warned, “the purge is here.” Yesterday, a video uploaded by the militia group Oath Keepers was removed.
The latest suspension was levied on Warksi, who has served as the leading host of a series of “bloodsports” debates that alt-right extremists have flocked to with the hopes of achieving their explicit goal of moving the “Overton Window” and converting viewers who have right-leaning political views into supporters of their white nationalist agenda. The “bloodsports” phenomenon has received endless praise from the likes of neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, who runs The Daily Stormer, and Mike “Enoch” Peinovich, who hosts one of the most popular alt-right podcasts.
YouTube users like Warski have blamed outside forces for YouTube’s actions against extremist content, often pointing to reports that since 2012 YouTube has sought help moderating content via its “trusted flaggers” program, which includes watchdog groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.
In a video uploaded to Twitter, Warski blamed the “trusted flaggers” for his suspension and warned other users that “you’re at risk if these trusted flaggers find you,” criticizing so-called “social justice warrior” activists on the site, and adding that “a ton of YouTubers who have criticized SJWs are getting strikes”:
Well… this happened. pic.twitter.com/mY52JfiWdM
— Andy Warski (@Andywarski) March 1, 2018
Predictably, far-right pundits were aghast.
Ian Miles Cheong, who writes, among other things, a vertical dedicated to “involuntary celibates” for right-wing provocateur Milos Yiannopoulous, declared that Warski’s suspensions demonstrated that “free speech will not be tolerated” by YouTube. From his article:
Just days after YouTube put strikes against several conservative channels, on Wednesday evening the platform suspended Warski Live—the home of Internet bloodsports, or political debate streams—from hosting its daily show.
Free speech will not be tolerated.
Various other lesser-known Trump-supporting accounts hosting daily political debate streams were hit with a similar strike several days ago, effectively putting an end to those accounts ability to reach any sort of audience—a problem compounded by some of those creators also being banned from Twitter.
Paul Ray Ramsey, an alt-right internet personality who has spoken for the white nationalist group American Renaissance, said that there “are certain groups that are simply not compatible with American values” and that those groups control what is censored on YouTube:
There are certain groups that are simply not compatible with American values. The organization that controls YouTube’s censorship is such a group. https://t.co/EYiyG4rw1B
— RAMZPAUL (@ramzpaul) March 1, 2018
Lauren Rose, a YouTube pundit who grew in popularity after she openly embraced white nationalism, speculated that social media sites were “screwing with us slowly rather than all at once as to prevent any significant action against them”:
Obviously I’m just fantasizing here… but it seems that Twitter and YouTube under the *DL are screwing with us slowly rather than all at once as to prevent any significant action against them.
— Lauren Rose (@LaurenRoseUltra) March 1, 2018
Peinovich insisted, “the bloodsports will continue”:
The bloodsports will continue. https://t.co/kQaN41OsD6
— NRA 5 Year Member Mike Enoch (@mikeenochsback) March 1, 2018
Gab, an “alt-tech” Twitter alternative website currently overrun by white nationalist and anti-Semitic content chimed into the conversation and declared that the SPLC and ADL are “direct threats to your freedom of expression and the free flow of information on the internet”:
Let’s be clear: the ADL and SPLC are direct threats to your freedom of expression and the free flow of information on the internet. pic.twitter.com/n0l8sLAb2K
— Gab: Free Speech Social Network (@getongab) March 1, 2018
The fury toward YouTube even reached Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who dedicated a segment of his show last night to railing against the site for partnering with SPLC, which Carlson claimed was a “hate group” that has been “wholly discredited.”
Even the Family Research Council, a Religious Right group that has been upset with SPLC for including anti-LGBTQ organizations on its lists of hate groups, got into the game, writing in its daily newsletter last night that the “growing understanding that Big Tech is picking and choosing who can speak in the virtual public square may help explain why there’s been a jump in the number of Americans who want to see more government regulation.”
As Media Matters researcher Cristina López points out, it’s also worth noting that some alt-right users have been caught organizing flagging campaigns in an attempt to force prominent content producers to join “alt-tech” platforms like Twitter alternative “Gab,” YouTube alternative “BitChute,” Facebook alternative “Minds,” and Reddit alternative “Voat.”
Fun plot twist in the YouTube striking and suspension of accounts right-wing trolls are calling censorship:
A lot of the flagging and reporting is being done by “alt-right” trolls, to get “LARGE” content producers banned and get them to migrate to their “alt-tech” platforms. pic.twitter.com/FMT4Sqg4Lw
— cristina lópez g. (@crislopezg) March 1, 2018
Other recent leaks from alt-right Discord channels show users organizing to influence YouTube metrics with fake accounts, in hopes of manipulating YouTube’s algorithms to elevate white nationalist content and bury dissenting content.