The Southern Poverty Law Center is assisting YouTube in flagging content on the platform, an insider has reported.
The Montgomery-based, non-profit smear center has a $300 million endowment, with companies like Apple and JP MorganChase giving millions since the election of Donald Trump.
YouTube has implemented a “Trusted Flaggers” program, and selected the SPLC as one of the over 100 nongovernment organizations, or NGOs, and government agencies to monitor content, a source told the Daily Caller.
The SPLC and other selected agencies patrol the platform seeking what they determine to be extremist content ranging from “hate speech,” to terrorist recruitment videos. What ends up on the chopping block–demonetized, reported to police, or flagged –is up to the agencies YouTube has selected.
A representative for Google, the parent company of YouTube, previously stated that all contractors sign confidentiality agreements. The Anti-Defamation League and the European organization ‘No Hate Speech’ have gone public with their work for the “Trusted Flaggers” program. The majority of groups charged with flagging content are still unknown due to the confidentiality agreements.
The SPLC to monitoring content for acceptability is likely to create concern in the fairness that conservatives receive on the platform. The self appointed watchdog group has a pattern of smearing run-of-the-mill conservative organizations and personalities as “hate groups” or propagators of “general hate.”
SPLC believed the Tea Party movement, which lobbied for smaller government in 2010, was an “extremist” group. It even once labeled an entire community in Iowa as a “hate group” because a handful of alt-right members once met at a restaurant there.
In 2012 a man entered the Family Research Council firing a gun. Floyd Lee Corkins said he chose the pro-life/traditional marriage lobbying organization as a target because SPLC listed them as a hate group.
Others like Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, and Somali author Ayaan Hirsi Ali who escaped a fatwa after having her genitals mutilated, are labeled “extremists” according to the SPLC.
This past week lifelong feminist scholar, Christina Hoff Sommers, was penciled onto their hate list as well.
Google’s increased regulation of content, and the “Trusted Flaggers” program, has ballooned since 2012, when it first began. In 2017, 50 additional flaggers were added, now totaling 113. YouTube’s public policy director Juniper Downs told a senate committee this January that YouTube would exercise firmer control over the content on its platform.
Downs said the independent groups would be contracted to halt the spread of “extremist propaganda.”
The “Trusted Flaggers” use digital tools to mass flag what they deem to be objectionable content which is then reviewed by YouTube staff. They also assist in designing algorithms that may automatically flag posts.
A YouTube spokesman said, “We work with over 100 organizations as part of our Trusted Flagger program and we value the expertise these organizations bring to flagging content for review. All trusted flaggers attend a YouTube training to learn about our policies and enforcement processes.
“Videos flagged by trusted flaggers are reviewed by YouTube content moderators according to YouTube’s Community Guidelines. Content flagged by trusted flaggers is not automatically removed or subject to any differential policies than content flagged from other users.”
The spokesperson would not confirm if SPLC is one of those groups.
On Google and YouTube, most flagging is done by algorithms. Algorithms allow people monitoring the platform to deny having a motive like political bias. But such algorithms are still designed by people who may have a bias with the SPLC being a big red flag as to one of those groups with strong bias.
Emily Jashinsky of the Washington Examiner wrote last year, “the SPLC’s claim to objectivity is nothing less than fraudulent, a reality that informed observers of its practices from both the Left and Right accept.”
“The routine of debunking their supposedly objective classifications occurs like clockwork each time a major outlet makes the mistake of turning to them when reporting on the many conservative thinkers and nonprofits the group absurdly designates as hateful.”
Conservatives have been increasingly up in arms about YouTube de-platform them. Conservative educational site PragerU filed a lawsuit against Google last year for incorrectly flagging simple teaching videos as “inappropriate” for young audiences.
This week YouTube slapped popular host Alex Jones and others who questioned the anti-gun arguments of the student-activists from Parkland with flags and strikes against their account. And yesterday, YouTuber Andrew Warski was suspended for 90 days from livestream on the account. His channel hosts political debates from across the spectrum.
Another tactic YouTube has been accused of is demonetizing conservative content with a high yield of views, like the pro-Trump commentators Diamond & Silk.
Several popular right wing shows are still unavailable in restricted mode, which makes them unavailable to those under 18, or in public buildings or schools, regardless of being FCC compliant. Leftist shows, such as the Young Turks, make no such regard for language or adult content and may be viewed by anyone.
feature image: SPLC CEO Richard Cohen, via The LA Times
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