A leaked Google document, spanning a whopping 85 pages, has been causing controversy. The document, titled “The Good Censor,” describes types of content that ought to be censored, and how the content should be censored.
According to Breitbart, the censorship would be undertaken to “appease authoritarian governments.” And although the document has not been officially linked to Google’s secret Project Dragonfly project, many media outlets have made the connection.
Plus, there’s more information that was revealed, including the percentage of government censor requests for each Google service. For example, 50.6% of government requests were given for YouTube videos, while 19.8% of requests were for searches.
It isn’t surprising to hear that YouTube has been asked to censor content. After all, Motherboard described how the struggle between government censorship and freedom of speech has been present since the beginning of the platform. And while some governments have made requests that certain content be taken down, others have outright blocked the site in their countries.
In fact, by 2008, the following countries had blocked YouTube at least once: Brazil, China, Syria, Thailand, Pakistan, and Turkey.
And there are known instances of YouTube censoring certain users. For example, Egyptian YouTuber, Wael Abbas, was kicked off the site. Abbas was a loud activist against police brutality, which led some to speculate that the Egyptian government was behind it. The official story given by YouTube, however, said that the removal came after many users complained about his videos.
The idea that Google wields a lot of power is nothing new, either. In 2016, U.S. News & World Report described how Google had become “the world’s biggest censor.” The article also delved into how Google has been accused of “banning postings on specific topics,” and even influencing people with the “autocomplete blacklist.” This refers to the words that pop up below the Google search bar when a user goes to type something in. There are certain phrases that pop up, or will not pop up, which can have political biases and more.
And again, the publication points to a “YouTube blacklist,” which describes how conservative political voices were being silenced. It also stated that “YouTube also sometimes acquiesces to the censorship demands of foreign governments.”
An example was given of the relationship between YouTube and the Pakistani government. The government was threatening a three-year ban of the site in their country, but all was solved when YouTube gave the government the power “to determine which videos it can and cannot post.”
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