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Is YouTube trying to make a point?

19 June 2018

There's something wrong at YouTube. Something very wrong.

A number of very high profile, highly respected and prestigeous channels (such as MIT) are having their content blocked by YouTube, such that it is impossible to view from outside the USA.

In fact, when I went to the MIT YouTube channel and tried to look at their videos, this is what I got:

What the hell is going on?

Clearly, based on the masthead that MIT themselves have put on their channel, even they don't know -- and they're not the only ones affected.

A number of media organisations and the channels concerned have attempted to get answers out of YouTube but so far... nothing!

Now Occam's Razor would suggest that this is simply a technical snafu which is affecting a small range of channels and will be fixed shortly. Such an incident is not without precedent... but this time it may be something different.

TorrentFreak is carrying a report which suggests there may be a link between these strange events and an upcoming vote on copyright in the EU.

Perhaps YouTube has become a political animal which has chosen to disable some key channels as a method of influencing the vote. Showing just how crippling bad, overly restrictive copyright law can be might easily be the goal of these selective blocks on prime YouTube content.

Of course it is also possible that the blocks are the result of an underground initiative to also demonstrate the evils of overly tight copyright law -- but undertaken by a group who may have lodged thousands (or more) false copyright takedown notices against these channels. Google's YouTube content protection systems are so automated that it is reportedly very easy to take out channels in this way. YouTube shoots first and asks questions later in such matters so they would be as much a victim as the channels affected if this were the case.

I find it also rather amusing that this stuff-up (intended or otherwise) comes the week after Vimeo enaged in a very heavy campaign of advertising its services on YouTube. How coincidental! Anyone looking to escape the YouTube universe has Vimeo's branding firmly stuck in their head right now -- hmmm!

Now if this is a bit of political activism on the part of YouTube/Google then we should all be worried.

It doesn't matter whether Google is on the side of right or wrong, if a company with the ubiquitousness and muscle of Google starts trying to influence political decisions by way of anything other than open and honest lobbying... we are all in trouble.

If Google is going to engage in skulduggery like this, we may all be cheering today because we agree with the goal... but what happens if the goal is contrary to to the public good and only benefits Google themselves?

What if Google starts (very subtly) biasing search results in favour of its friends and against its enemies?

Google *is* the internet to many people. From that perspective, they have the potential to be far more powerful than any nation or peoples.

Should we be worried... or *very* worried?

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