If you've been wondering why content creators have been fleeing YouTube for quite a while now, it has everything to do with Google's ridiculously corporate-favoring ContentID system and the fact that it's managed to destroy the finances of several users, triggering a small-but-notable exodus off Youtube and towards private hosts, as well as alternatives to Youtube such as Blip, Dailymotion, and Vimeo.
But nothing could prepare me to the revelation that awaited my inbox this morning when a favorite Youtube gaming editorial guy, AlphaOmegaSin, revealed a bombshell in that Youtube was in the process of appointing Super-Flaggers, which have the ability to flag and instantly delete videos or even accounts that violate rules and take down anything that qualifies as "offensive" or "hate speech."
All of which seems like a simple shake-up in their policies.... Until you realize that these Super-Flaggers include government agencies (which may or may not include our pals at the NSA), major corporations, and more, and essentially give these already ridiculously-powerful entities even more tools in their arsenal to censor and control messaging.
Follow me below the Squiggle for more, people.
For the uninitiated, since Youtube was acquired by Google, it's suffered a steady downward slide. Between altering search results so that popular videos get top billing, to demanding users get and use Google Plus accounts that nobody asked for, to attempts to force users to reveal their full names when commenting, Google's additions to Youtube have been rife with horrible ideas that have mostly done little but infuriate the community to no end. All of these have been widely-criticized, and yet no matter how much flak has been thrown at Google over it, it's never once responded to criticisms, mostly content to bunker down behind the "my site, my rules" excuse, which has led to multiple users leaving Youtube entirely, save for token things deployed here: Channel Awesome, for example, has several users which use Blip specifically because they got fed up with Youtube's policies, whereas video game commentators like JohnTron decided upon their own unique work-arounds.
A huge amount of users began to leave, however, during two specific major incidents in Youtube's recent history: Forced integration with Google Plus, and the absolutely horrendous Content ID System Changes, which have enabled major copyright holders to claim ownership and monetization of videos for seconds worth of audio, or even over spurious claims. This scatter-shot copyright claim nonsense has been widely criticized, and has gotten a number of channels taken down or subverted via this nonsense; an in-depth guide to working within Youtube's asinine Content ID System is here, and worth watching. The recent changes caused many reviewers of games and movies to accrue ridiculous numbers of Content ID notifications and removal notices, during which time the company placing the Content ID strike gets to monetize the video in the original creator's stead. Suffice to say, this attitude of putting rights-holders ahead of the end user angered many users, and began the first rumblings of open revolt against Youtube's policies.
Strangely, Youtube responded by getting even worse.
The recent Super-Flagger revelation, seen here on CNET, is freaking terrifying. The wording of the Super-Flagger responsibilities are intentionally incredibly nebulous, and would effectively allow these appointed defenders to take down anything that qualifies as "hate speech" or which could "incite violence."
And even better, each Super-Flagger can be an organization.
Whilst there's no definitive evidence that the NSA is one of those Super Flaggers yet, it's a pretty damned good possibility, especially given what we know about Google/Government coordination in the past, and of their reaction to the likes of Snowden.
Color me surprised.
Me? I'm planning to eventually move my crappy channel to Vimeo. At least there, my little not-for-profit Fair Game Show won't be molested endlessly by copyright claims years after I've posted the video itself.
EDIT: I was a bit annoyed to learn that despite the title on the news tickers for the News.nom article above, the NSA has not yet been implicitly implicated. Operative word being yet. Until confirmation has arrived, however, I have edited accordingly.
EDIT TWO: Holy shit, RecList. Thank you, all of you for helping to spread awareness of this issue.