YouTube Nude Censorship Is Out of Control

| September 5, 2014 | 19 Comments

Censorship of Nudity on YouTube Gives All Users the Power to Censor

A little over a week ago, I went into our YouTube channel with plans to upload a new video. But before I could do so, I was slapped with a warning. Our short naturist promo video was reported by a user, reviewed by a YouTube admin (I guess) and taken down for violating the Terms of Use. It had been up for 3 years and had over 200,000 views.

The offending video:

YouTube has become so big, they’ve essentially lost control over their content. With thousands of videos uploaded daily, it becomes impossible to find, review and remove every single delinquent video. So what’s their solution?

youtube flagging censorship community guidelines videos yna

YouTube now relies on users to report videos that violate their terms of use. In other words, users now have the power to decide what is and isn’t too obscene for YouTube. It doesn’t matter if the video has been on the site for years and accumulated hundreds of thousands or even millions of views. It doesn’t even matter if the report is reviewed by a YouTube admin, who presumably makes the final decision on leaving it up or removing it. Because, were it not for that one user who reported the video, it would still be sitting on YouTube gaining more views.

All it takes is one offended viewer and a few clicks, and the video is gone.

In a video on how to censor flag content, YouTube actually explains how the users are now responsible for helping to monitor content. Though they refer people to their (vague and practically useless) community guidelines, in this video they state, “That’s why we rely on our community of over 280 million people to help flag content they believe is inappropriate. The YouTube flag is the most important tool for telling us about content you think should not appear on YouTube.”

(They have a new, shorter version of this how-to video, but I find the old one is inadvertently more honest.)

So YouTube is basically like, “well our site is so vast, we’re just going to hand off this monitoring responsibility thing to our 280 million users!” Very sneaky, YouTube! In the mind of the user, YouTube would now seem much less accountable for what appears on the site. It also empowers users to act on inappropriate content, gives them a sense of duty to help monitor content and gives people a simple button to click when they see something that offends them (whether it violates the terms of use or not).

So we’re supposed to believe that 280 million people, and YouTube reviewers, are capable of evenly applying some vague community guidelines to report inappropriate content. Or if not the guidelines, they can just report content based on what they believe. Solid plan, right? What could possibly go wrong?

So what happens if a video was truly unjustly removed? In the case of our video, I couldn’t find any way to appeal it. It’s like they just took that option away, and it was a done deal. So we’re stuck with a 6-month strike, whether it was justified or not.

A few months ago, I’d created a parody “Facebook Look Back” video to make a point about Facebook censorship. Ironically, it got reported and censored on YouTube. I was able to appeal it once, but my appeal was rejected. This is why it’s so funny that they state “we encourage free speech” in the flagging video above.

This censorship is absolutely ridiculous. I thought Facebook was the evil empire of Internet censorship, but Google (Google owns YouTube) is worse.

Why was our video removed? It violated their policy on nudity and sex. I can only assume the offending part was the two uncovered female breasts.

Here’s what they say in their Community Guidelines on “Sex and Nudity”:

“Most nudity is not allowed, particularly if it is in a sexual context. Generally if a video is intended to be sexually provocative, it is less likely to be acceptable for YouTube. There are exceptions for some educational, documentary, scientific, and artistic content, but only if that is the sole purpose of the video and it is not gratuitously graphic. For example, a documentary on breast cancer would be appropriate, but posting clips out of context from the documentary might not be.”

This policy is vague and inherently subjective. There are no concrete guidelines. “Art” is always subjective. What is “nudity” exactly? What is art? What qualifies something as educational?

YouTube didn’t always have the policies it has today. At one time, nudity wasn’t even allowed on the site. Period. But I’m sure they realized no nudity meant censoring millions of works of art. So in 2010 they changed their policy to allowing nudity in the context of art. There’s just one problem. Who decides what’s art and what’s not?

Having no specific guidelines means every user is at the mercy of every other user and YouTube admin. The censorship becomes completely random and inconsistent. Uploading a video with any sort of taboo content is like a gamble. Maybe it’ll stay up, maybe not. Maybe two years or five years will go by before it’s taken down. Who knows.

Judging by the amount of pornography on YouTube right now, the system clearly isn’t working. There are tons of porn videos. TONS.

The same “evolution” has occurred with Facebook, which now claims that content only comes to their attention when it’s reported by a user. So this also creates a system where the censorship is totally random. Sometimes content is left alone, and sometimes it’s taken down. It doesn’t matter whether a post or photo or video actually violates the community standards or not. Facebook has repeatedly stated that breastfeeding photos are allowed, and yet these types of photos continuously get removed.

When they get called out for it in the media, their response is like, “We’re sorry. This almost NEVER happens. There’s just SO much content on our site, and it’s so darn hard to manage! If we fixed it, how would we find the time to develop our elaborate advertising schemes and violate users’ privacy without them knowing about it?”

I understand, Facebook. Technology is hard. It’s hard for Google, too. Lucky for you guys, nobody has successfully taken a stand in a big way and forced you to rewrite all the rules. But eventually, the time will come when people with more influence than us will do something about this.

The current system is shit, and even Google knows that. My solution for them is to give up trying censor the most inane content. It’s a losing battle. The best thing to do is work on taking down illegal material and let everything else be.

So for now, #boycottyoutube. We’re still going to put videos on YouTube, but they’ll be in a style similar to my censored Facebook Look Back video. We’ll use their own website to make a point and drive users to Vimeo.

One last note ’cause I know what some of you are thinking – “But YouTube is a free service. There are alternatives, and you don’t have to use it.”

1. Google is a massive empire. Where do you take your searches? Do you Bing that shit? No, you Google it. Where do you go first to find a video clip? Google might suck, but it dominates the Internet. Telling someone to just leave is like telling them to go do their searches on Yahoo! from now on. You’re not going to get the same results.

2. It’s not really free. You pay with your eyeballs on the advertisements. And no doubt, as long as you’re signed in, Google is tracking your every move and figuring out how to monetize that information. Google is not your friend.

YouTube Nudity Censorship Is Out of Control was published by – Young Naturists and Young Nudists America YNA

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Category: Felicity's Nudist Blog, Censorship, Social Activism

About the Author ()

Author of Felicity's Blog. Co-founder of Young Naturists America. 3rd-generation nudie. Avid reader. Feminist. 70% vegan, 30% vegetarian. When I'm not busy eating, I'm writing about naturism, censorship, topfree equality, body image and other fun topics. I like feedback, so plz leave a comment when you've got something to say!
  • JonathanHughes1

    TTinNW Nude is. God never said make laws saying adult stuff. Nature is adult stuff. People need to accept all forms of nudity.  Nudity does not mean sex real or animated. Haters use Youtube laws to attack peacful harmless people.  The laws need to be taken away. People are responsible to God. Good people will see him as light not turning them into ashes on judgment day. People need to fear God not man made laws.

  • TTinNW Totally, not sexual nudity receives more scrutiny that sexual nudity as ridiculous as that may sound to us.

  • TTinNW

    This floors me simply because there are all kinds of x rated movies floating around YouTube, as well as supposed “naturist” videos that lean toward titillation and pornography. How ironic that YNA is banned, but not the truly adult stuff.

  • PeterVernon

    No, to add good as a reference infers that those reporting know what God wants. The ultimate arrogance would be to know the mind of God.
    Not to mention it’s a difficult framework for those that don’t actually believe that good exists.
    Make it harder use what the legal types out here use “Offend a reasonable person”. Even harder to find.

  • JonathanHughes1

    People need to think this: would God be glorified with what I put on YouTube? Do all things to the glory of God. God made the nude form. Think about all of this before any nude stuff is posted.  That should be on the Google rule book. People in the end are responsible for what they do. Glorify God in what you say, too.

  • ToplessTopics

    This article says exactly everything I have been saying and feeling all along. I switched to Vimeo for my “Topless Topics-destigmatizing female nipples one vlog at a time” months ago and have just been uploading “preview” videos to Youtube to direct people to the real thing on Vimeo, since Youtube themselves keep banning and removing my videos as “porn” Well today they took down one of my “preview” videos, so my entire account is about to get deleted… If I post to Youtube it’s “porn,” If I post elsewhere it’s “spam!” I can’t win! 8D

    Spot-on about “why not other sites” too. It’s such a lazy counter-argument to say “just use another site,” when there ARE no adequate alternatives. Argh!

  • Shame that material gets censored :(
    Vimeo is good but unfortunately things take an age to change. Once people obuse whatever rules are in place its difficult to change opinion.It must be difficult to look through every video and check for stuff that pornagraffic. Vimeo is smaller so the rules are relaxed and naturist videos like ours get broadcast.

  • KenNDonnaKushman

    Totally subjective with no objectivity :-(

  • All-Nudist.com Of course they are all about money. But in their flagging video there’s a reason they address freedom of speech, claiming they support it (HA, that’s so funny YouTube!). It’s such a big site that when something is censored, people see it as stifling their freedom of speech. As they should. Seeing as it’s run by Google, YouTube has such a huge influence on the Internet. This means that it very much matters what they censor or don’t censor, and that they DO have a responsibility towards users and viewers. And Google knows that. They just try to make people think they’re acknowledging that responsibility and working in the public’s best interest. Which is entirely untrue. 
    I think it’s only a matter of time before people come to this realization. Users have forced changes on Facebook. It’ll happen on YouTube, too.
    P.s. I very much enjoyed the last part of your comment about video topics that can be found on YT lol. So true.

  • NickAlimonos I guess a specific warning about “nudity” would be better than randomly censoring it. YouTube started making you sign in and verify your age to see “adult” content, but their warning doesn’t tell you anything. It just says “Content Warning. Sign in to confirm your age.” Now if the video title / description doesn’t tell you anything, the user has no idea what they’re being warned about. It could stop them in their tracks and keep them from even signing in to view it. It creates a barrier to content being viewed because someone decided it qualifies as “mature content.” It becomes another form of censorship.
    The age verification is also rather pointless because it’s so easy for someone to lie about their age. 
    But I would take a “warning: nudity” over total censorship.

  • PeterVernon

    We’ve been looking at a video hosting solution, well actually more a solution for multiplatform support, and Vimeo is looking good.

    Their paid version alows us to lock it down to an embedded player on a set site and their T&C’s actually state under content restrictions:

    “Contains sexually explicit content or pornography (provided, however, that non-sexual nudity is permitted);”
    It’s at least worth a look.

  • Toga1cat

    Lol

  • Comfortablyfree

    Censoring morality. But people would get it all wrong if we had out own “NUDE TUBE” or “YOUR TUBE.” Just lol.

  • Great post! Even though that Youtube may think that passing the control to all users eventually there would only be videos that everybody agrees to, it will not happen. People are different with different interests and unfortunately there is intolerance and lack of respect.

  • vegannakedpagan

    I watched the video and must say I was shocked beyond belief! Shocked that some idiot found that worth being upset over. I kept waiting to see something really scandalous. That someone found this video offensive just blows me away.

  • All-Nudist.com

    Oh, THAT video!  The one with a fuzzy breast!  No wonder.  Obviously obscene.

    Hey, this sounds like a rehash of complaints about Facebook and its, um, interesting way of dealing with ‘adult’ topics.  Should that be a surprise?

    These mega-corporations are all about profits and public image, not free speech. Obviously, their advisors (and advertisers) feel that the general public doesn’t want this sort of thing available even if they have to search hard to find it!

    As IF you’re going to accidentally find YouTube videos of young nudists while innocently looking for ‘Care Bears’ for your kids… (and your kids already know where to find the GOOD stuff!).
    It’s not YouTube’s job to provide promotion to anyone or guarantee ‘freedom of speech’, only to maximise profits.  We lose.

    Now, if you’d like to expound on the benefits of an AKS over Heckler and Koch, that’s an entirely different matter!  Want to convert your legal semi-auto to full auto?  Want a silencer or sniper scope?  No problem!  Videos abound!

    Want to learn why white people are superior to everyone else?  YouTube can handle that for you.
    But a fuzzy breast on a YouTube page that you actually have to search to find?  Smut.

  • ron_nitoc

    Nick, you are dead on.  There are already videos to require you to confirm you are 18.  Disclose the content up front, and then let the user make the call.  It is the same think with nude beaches, make them established, put up appropriate signage and those that are offended simply don’t go.  It is ridiculous that we allow one user to limit what 200,000 have seen and are not offended.  Why would you choose to watch a video on a site that includes Nudism and Naturism in its name if you are offended by nudity.  They are choosing to be offended and You Tube should be simply telling them not to visit a site with material that they could find offensive.

    Now will someone tell me where I go to Flag all the adds and emails I don’t want to received, they offend me!

  • Great article; I think they should do what Blogger and deviantArt does: warn the viewer of mature content and allow you to click on it if you’re not offended by nudity. Problem solved.

  • Toga1cat

    Well done Felicity