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At Long Last, YouTube Bans Notorious White Supremacist Channels

What took you guys so long?

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As America continues its racial justice reckoning, tech companies are struggling to meet the moment with long-overdue changes. YouTube has now banned several notorious white supremacist accounts, including those of podcaster and “scientific racism” espouser Stefan Molyneux, white nationalist poster boy Richard Spencer, and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. In addition, they’ve banned channels belonging to white nationalist publication American Renaissance and Spencer’s NPI/Radix organization.

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YouTube has spent years as a cesspool of racist ideology, promoting baseless conspiracy theories and giving the alt-right a platform with zero accountability. And while the company has had a code of conduct in place, it frequently ignores its own rules unless there is massive public outcry.

The streaming giant allowed hate speech on their site as long as it didn’t “incite violence,” but changed their tack in June of 2019 when they announced a ban on white supremacist content. Their new policy prohibited any hate speech “alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status.”

Still, it’s baffling that it took this long to actually deplatform some of the most well-known white supremacists on the internet. Even with their 2019 policy in place, YouTubers like Spencer and Duke remained.

A YouTube spokesperson released a statement saying, “We have strict policies prohibiting hate speech on YouTube, and terminate any channel that repeatedly or egregiously violates those policies, … After updating our guidelines to better address supremacist content, we saw a 5x spike in video removals and have terminated over 25,000 channels for violating our hate speech policies.”

YouTube joins other tech companies in banning hate speech. Twitch has suspended Donald Trump’s channel, and Reddit has deleted thousands of white supremacist subreddits like The_Donald. YouTube has also demonetized massively popular vlogger Shane Dawson’s channels for videos featuring him in blackface, sexualizing minors, and mocking people with disabilities.

Facebook and Instagram announced in March that they would be banning white nationalism and separatist accounts. And thanks to the #StopHateForProfit campaign, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company would flag “newsworthy” posts from politicians that violate their rules, including those from President Trump (as Twitter had previously done.) Zuckerberg also promised to ban any posts that incite violence or suppress voting, even if they come from the president itself.

In response to these common-sense platforms, many Trumpers, Republicans, and members of the alt-right are moving to Parler, a new social media app catered to conservatives. The app currently has 1.5 million users, among them Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. Devin Nunes, and Senator Rand Paul, as well as several members of the Trump family.

“I don’t see why you need to censor the president’s tweets,” said Parler CEO John Matze. “If you don’t like what he has to say, vote him out of office.”

Oh don’t worry, Mr. Matze. We will.

(via The Guardian, image: YouTube)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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