Earlier this week, Vox‘s Carlos Maza succeeded in getting independent journalists and content creators demonetized across the YouTube platform in what has become known as the Vox Adpocalypse. These users, including Steven Crowder, were ones with whom Maza has had personal Twitter spats.
The day after the demonetizing, Vox writers, including Maza, walked out on their jobs in a protest over wages. After all, killing other people’s income sources ought to command a higher payday. The conflict over wages and working conditions began in 2017, when Vox Media staffers announced their unionization intentions, shortly thereafter joining the Writers Guild of America East. As no agreement has yet been reached, more than 300 writers took their Google docs and went home.
Outlets like Vice, BuzzFeed, and Vox, are either dying or are being put on life support by other corporations who have a vested interest in maintaining the woke, clickbait status quo.
As Newsweek reported, “On Tuesday, the Team YouTube Twitter account wrote that while the company ‘found language that was clearly hurtful, the videos as posted don’t violate our policies.’ The next day, YouTube reversed its stance and announced Crowder’s channel would be demonetized.”
In changing the standards of their platform overnight, and continuously adjusting what constitutes unacceptable speech, dialogue, and T-shirts, YouTube makes it difficult for broadcasters to know whether they will be able to continue earning a living tomorrow.
Writers and media owners are still resistant to the demands of the contemporary newsroom. Funding models are adjusted based on monetizing clicks, ad revenue is courted, and crowdfunding platforms augment writers’ salaries. Owners and writers are perpetually trying to get a handle on how to paint a financially sustainable picture, while delivering content that has meaning. Which is why it’s so disingenuous for writers to seek to defund other journalists and content creators.
Let’s face it. There have been a lot of unpersonings, cancellings and deplatformings over the past five years, but this Vox Adpocalypse is a major first step toward something sinister—it’s affected actual policy. First at YouTube and then at Twitter.
Some well-respected voices have suggested that it’s perfectly fine to eliminate unsavoury content creators in order to enforce “basic decency standards.”
If YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook were strictly private companies as opposed to monopolistic corporations who control the political and cultural town square, then they may have a more compelling point.
In fact, just two days ago we wrote, “Silencing speech that is distasteful now means that it will be that much easier for someone else to silence you.” And just like that, we see that the silencers are being silenced. Much to Carlos Maza’s consternation, progressive journalist Ford Fischer had the same thing happen to him, a guy who was monitoring “hateful content” has now been trampled under the heels of the progressive march of his colleagues. This whole Vox Adpocalypse thing reveals that it’s easy to destroy the ground you’re standing on.
YouTube has run afoul of internet denizens for some time because of the video recommendations algorithm, which throws up recommended videos with seemingly no rhyme or reason, giving viewers a link to a video about incels after they’d watched something on Ikebana. But instead of continuing to work on their product and improve their algorithms, they have decided to become compelled by what Ben Shapiro calls “astroturfing boycotts.”
First, these paranoiac overcorrections take away the livelihood of an edgy comedian, then they take away the livelihood of a progressive comedian, then they start to scrub their platform of world history.
YouTube has now taken to removing educational videos of World War II because there are Nazis in them, and everyone knows that Nazis are offensive. As MIT Technology Review puts it, “this shows just how fraught and complex the balance is, and highlights the risk of unintended consequences when policies and algorithms are tweaked.”
These new YouTube rules and regulations are now affecting the way we understand and process the world. They are removing actual history lessons. This is what Vox has wrought. And now their writers want a raise.
It’s a good thing that everything humans have used to document history hasn’t been digitized and the originals tossed just yet. We don’t have to wait for our libraries to be burned by invading ideological enemies or crusaders, we’ll just do it ourselves. Plus this way, we won’t know when we begin to repeat the genocidal history of our past.
As Churchill once paraphrased, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” The door that is opened by the silencing, deplatforming, and cancelling of ideas and people that are unsavory is one that enters into a confusing world of shifting, subjective standards, where platforms are too afraid to stand up for their users lest they be taken down themselves. What began as an ideological turf war for control of the narrative has morphed into social engineering. We are erasing our own history because we think it’s too offensive.