YouTube Now Targeting Videos for ‘Controversial Religious’ Content

Gage Cohen | August 4, 2017 | 5:15pm EDT
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Dr. Peterson got locked out of his YouTube account.

On Tuesday, the world’s largest video sharing platform, YouTube - attracting over a billion visitors per month - announced that it is now targeting videos contain “controversial religious or supremacist content” – even if they do not violate the site’s terms of use

“We’ll soon be applying tougher treatment to videos that aren’t illegal but have been flagged by users as potential violations of our policies on hate speech and violent extremism,” announced the Google-owned company on its blog.

“If we find that these videos don’t violate our policies but contain controversial religious or supremacist content, they will be placed in a limited state. The videos will remain on YouTube behind an interstitial, won’t be recommended, won’t be monetized, and won’t have key features including comments, suggested videos, and likes.”

This policy means that videos complying with YouTube’s own standards, but contain content that some users find to contain religious controversy or “supremacist content” may not be promoted on the site, suggested to viewers, or permitted to contain advertisements - meaning that content creators cannot receive ad revenue from that video.

This policy, as well as past actions taken by the video platform, has led some to criticize YouTube for suppressing speech with which it disagrees.

Last week, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, who has a YouTube channel with over 350,000 subscribers, was locked out of his account by Google for several hours for “a policy violation.” Dr. Peterson first came into view of the public eye when he made videos explaining his reasons for refusing to use non-traditional gender pronouns.

Since then, he has made videos covering the disciplines of psychology, politics, and, most recently, the Bible. The “professor against political correctness” discovered his account was locked when he tried to upload his newest Old Testament lecture.

Dr. Peterson tweeted about the situation and - after some media coverage and the protests of many of his fans - Google reinstated his account, without an explanation of why it had been locked.  

“I’ve had that account for the last, say, 15 years. All of my correspondence is in that account. It’s hundreds of thousands of emails from people all over the world,” Dr. Peterson told the Daily Caller. “But the fact that they reviewed it and then decided that my account is not eligible to be reinstated indicates to me either that this is quite a curious mistake or that there’s something that’s political going on that is associated with censorship.”

Google has not provided the professor with the specific policy they claimed he violated.

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