Beginning of YouTube
YouTube was created in 2005 and originally was intended to be a dating website. Today YouTube is the biggest video sharing website known and used around the globe. YouTube’s mission is to give everyone a chance to make their voice heard across the world. This mission also includes allowing the content creators to use their freedom of speech and expression actively. To create the most personalized environment for its users, YouTube collects data over time to recommend the most relevant videos for them. YouTube collects data from its users by putting their information into an algorithm to figure out what is most relevant for users to view next. YouTube was only around for one year before Google decided to buy them. Google created Google AdSense, a program designed to put ads before, during, and after the videos based on the interests of the specific viewer. These advertisements are a significant part in funding for both YouTube and their content creators, which allows for consistent uploading of a seemingly infinite amount of videos on the site.
YouTube and the Media
YouTube has become a huge resource for people to access all kinds of content, including the news. The site has verified channels that a user can turn to get their news or see coverage of news that was seen on a different platform. This way of having access to video or news coverage from not only yesterday, or a week ago, but even multiple years ago, provides the user with access to information possibly not found elsewhere. The site also has a “Trending” page with videos that YouTube determines as the videos that are garnering views at the fastest rate. The videos on this page tend to gather the most attention because they are easily accessible. YouTube, while still trying to allow users to freely express themselves, moderates videos that are posted as well as comments on videos. The company has a ‘Community Guidelines’ page that discusses what kind of videos should not be uploaded. These guidelines cover things such as hateful content, nudity or sexual content, violent or graphic content, threats, privacy, etc. Despite having these guidelines, the company relies heavily on users to report or flag content that they feel is not appropriate.
YouTube: A Valid Source?
There are a few concerns and critiques of YouTube that should be addressed. One main concern of YouTube is that the anonymity on the site can make it easier for people to blindly hate or bully someone while keeping their real identity a secret. Another issue is that the recommendations provided by the algorithm tend to push viewers toward more extreme content. This can amplify extremist political material and has led to children’s programming that is groteque and disturbing.
A common critique when it comes to YouTube is the copyright claims for certain videos, clips, and songs used in videos that restrict the amount of money YouTubers make. YouTube has made it so these companies or corporations can easily claim copyright and this can cause certain videos to be removed or blocked. The YouTuber may even have to pay the corporation or company for copyright claims when the YouTuber didn’t really do anything wrong. One way in which YouTube could solve this major issue would be to make it so that YouTube requires proof that copyright infringement is actually happening before a video gets shut down or blocked.
“The Battle Between YouTube and the Mainstream Media” by Joe Bish, Vice, May 3, 2017.
“YouTube’s Copyright Strikes Have Become a Tool for Extortion” by Shoshana Wodinsky, The Verge, Feb. 11, 2019.