What the tech giants' content replacement systems tell us about our free expression priorities
Last week, the leftist British Novara Media (disclosure, I have been a guest on some Novara programs) was kicked off YouTube for “repeated violations” of the service’s policies. Novara’s workers were alarmed, dismayed and outraged in equal measure. After all, the channel had only ever attracted one violation warning from YouTube, and that had been an error — something YouTube itself had acknowledged after further investigation.
A few hours later, Novara’s channel was restored. The New York Times took notice, saying that the incident “shows [YouTube’s] power over media.” Which, you know, fair enough. YouTube is dominant, thanks to its parent company (Google, masquerading as a holding company called Alphabet that exists as an account fiction). Google is able to self-preference by giving pride of place to YouTube in its search results, and it is able to plug YouTube into its rigged ad-auction business, where it illegally colludes with Facebook to maximize its profits from ads while minimizing the amount it passes on to the creators who make the videos those ads run on.