Friday, April 17, 2009
A new You Tube video getting a lot of attention highlights concerns that the “You” is being phased out of YouTube, as individual users are sidelined by regulation and censorship in favor of corporate domination of the popular video website, an eventuality that we first warned about years ago.
The clip makes the case that You Tube has all but eliminated the prominence of individual video channels and artificially suppressed their chances of topping the popular ranking charts.
In addition, the ranking charts themselves have been buried on the website and replaced with an assortment of “featured” videos, a combination of bland corporate promos and inane mindless clips, selected by You Tube bosses themselves, while “viral” videos voted on by individual users have been almost completely hidden.
The top ranking and most discussed categories used to appear on the front page of the website, but are now demoted to a sub-tab, the video claims. However, looking at the You Tube website this morning, small links to these categories have now been added to the main page.
The clip points out that ratings have been removed from the “most viewed” page to prevent bland corporate videos from being voted down by users, which does appear to be the case. Inoffensive political videos are also being flagged for deletion while clips that amount to soft porn are allowed.
The point made in the video about censorship is well received. We have had numerous accounts deleted by You Tube with little or no explanation and we receive e mails every week from people who have suffered the same fate. We have also documented how view counts on our videos have been altered to prevent them from going viral.
The video also claims that You Tube is switching over to a new design which will place corporate-sponsored TV shows and movies on the front page while relegating individual users’ videos to a sub-page. This corresponds with the announcement that, “YouTube…. is partnering with major studios to stream full-length movies and TV shows on its site for free,” according to an Associated Press report.
Watch the clip below.
The growth of community websites like You Tube, Facebook and MySpace brings with it the very dangers that we first highlighted years ago when the social networking and video blogging phenomenon was first taking off, that such sites represented a cyber “trojan horse and the media elite’s last gasp effort to reclaim control of the Internet and sink it with a stranglehold of regulation, control and censorship.”
The domination of user-driven community websites owned by large corporations over websites run and owned by individuals has created the perfect opportunity for corporations to swallow Internet traffic and put individual blogs and websites in the shadows.
Websites like You Tube became so successful because they allowed free reign for users to upload whatever videos they liked and put in place ranking systems determined by users themselves and not at the discretion of You Tube bosses. This meant that truly important videos, along with the usual celebrity trash that is par for the course, were allowed to go viral. However, since You Tube was bought by Google and changes were made to the website, You Tube has been dominated by bland paid-for corporate videos while videos popular with the actual community have been relegated to the sidelines.
This was always the danger of investing so much power and interest in community websites owned by large transnational corporations, as we warned years ago.
However, You Tube’s evolution from a community-driven first amendment outpost to a tightly regulated, corporate mouthpiece will only drive users away to smaller video blogging websites as well as a move back towards setting up their own private websites that aren’t subject to the controls of the corporate media oligarchy.