The Darker Side of YouTube

In the salad days of the net there were untold numbers of businesses who unsuccessfully tried to turn themselves into overnight sensations. Those were heady days in which it seemed the venture capital money was available to anyone bold enough to present a business idea to investors, no matter how silly.

Tens of thousands if not millions of people hoped to cash in on one of the major hits. I can remember many conversations with friends who anxiously hoped that their options would materialize into millions, or at least enough cash to buy some large ticket item like a car or home.

Just when you thought those days were long gone YouTube has brought back the memories. In less than two years it skyrocketed into our awareness evolving from a small start-up into a serious player and then a major acquisition.

If you spend any time on this blog you are certainly aware that I am a fan of their service. I have taken great joy in exploring some of the videos. They have been a fine addition to my blog and I have enjoyed sharing them with my readers.

Recently I have grown a bit disillusioned with the service. There is a darker side. The racists and bigots have found the service to be a good place to try and promote their vile rhetoric. Modern day Goebbels have taken advantage of the medium and are doing what they can to push their propaganda.

I find it troubling. I find it disturbing and I shake my head. Call me what you will, but I have limited faith in the ability of many to recognize the poison that these snakes are advancing as fact. They clothe their words in the finest raiment and sprinkle them with sugar coating.

Videos lauding white power are mixed with the rantings and ravings of the mad mullahs. Jihadists wield their cyber scimitars right next to others who promise death to those who have different beliefs.

It is troubling to me for a variety of reasons. I am a staunch proponent of the First Amendment. I believe in the Marketplace of Ideas.

The “marketplace of ideas” is a rationale for freedom of expression based on an analogy to the economic concept of a free market. The “marketplace of ideas” belief holds that the truth or the best policy arises out of the competition of widely various ideas in free, transparent public discourse, an important part of liberal democracy.

Yet, as I already mentioned I have limited faith in the ability of the general public to use logic and critical thought. So while I do believe in the the competition of ideas and that one should be able to say most anything, I am also quite concerned about where this can lead.

Ultimately I do come back to a place where I have to believe in the idea that with a little help society can come to the right conclusion, but that is still a bit uncomfortable for me. Did you notice that I said that with a little help society can come to the right conclusion?

It was intentional. I am aware that it sounds quite arrogant, but we live in times that call for strong measures. I still feel the same way I did when I wrote that you can be moral without being religious and I agree that some things are morally superior.

I am going to keep using YouTube and I am going to keep an eye on the videos that are presented there. The freedom we have is precious and I do believe that we have a responsibility to help protect it.

Perhaps this blog or some other will be the thing that helps to prevent us from losing more souls to the siren calls of the dark side.

We shall see.

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  1. Jack's Shack October 31, 2006 at 6:54 am


    We can only hope that this happens.


    Easier said than done is right.


    My blog is going to be eviscerated. Yikes.

  2. Elie October 30, 2006 at 7:42 pm

    From what I heard on the news today, Youtube is going to be deleting all copyrighted material, starting with anything from Comedy Central. Soon all that will be left there is amateur junk. Yuck.

  3. Anonymous October 30, 2006 at 9:44 am

    Good post. And I def agree with you – trying to work it out between the belief in freedom of expression and the fact that society doesn’t know how to handle the propaganda… I think it’s really up to the people with the strength to stand up to make it clear to society-at-large what is right and wrong, ok and not.

    But, alas, easier said than done.

  4. seawitch October 30, 2006 at 5:57 am

    There is a way to have those hate-filled videos taken off. YouTube has added to its flag system the option of hate speech. While I respect the freedom of speech for everyone, those videos spewing lies and hate should be flagged and if enough people flag them, YouTube takes them off and in some instances will cancel a users account.

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