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For YouTube, it's a season to ban

While the world's most popular video sharing site's administrators ignore a lot of soft-porn clips on it, they insist on banning rather innocuous videos, writes Sachin Kalbag.

india Updated: Dec 02, 2007 12:51 IST
Sachin Kalbag

You couldn't really argue with mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell, could you, when he said that we have two kinds of moralities; one, which we preach but do not practice, and another, which we practice but seldom preach. Something similar happens on YouTube often.



There are an embarrassingly large number of soft-porn clips on the world's most popular video sharing site. Yet, its administrators insist on banning rather innocuous videos. Last week, for instance, a video montage of photos of nursing mothers uploaded on YouTube to protest social networking site Facebook's banning of breastfeeding photos was itself banned.



For millions, breastfeeding is a perfectly natural act, and a string on photos on any site would do no harm. In fact, the League of Maternal Justice — which put up the "offensive" video on YouTube — insists that they created the video (provocatively called The Great Breast Fest Montage) "as a means to raise awareness of breastfeeding as a legally-protected matter of public health.”



The league's founder Kristen Chanse says, "We will continue to work with members of the medical and legal communities, as well as government agencies, to call attention to actions of entities like Facebook and YouTube that run contrary to public health policy."



Clearly, YouTube's influence over public debate is rising. Is a breastfeeding video indecent? Or is a movie review in scanty clothes (YouTube's second most watched video last week) not fit for public consumption? Should a teacher whose private life comprises making hardcore porn movies be banned from YouTube for posting a video of her walking naked in Berlin? Surely, there is a difference between these three?



Not really, feels YouTube. It wrote to Julie Marsh (the video's creator) and the LMJ that the site's administrators removed it for its inappropriate content after being flagged off by YouTube's users. YouTube's reviewers enter the picture each time a video is flagged by its users. The move seems a bit stupid because several other breastfeeding videos are openly available on the site.



LMJ's Chase has a point to ponder: "I'm not so surprised that the video was banned, considering the response that visuals of breastfeeding mothers have received from other popular social networking sites. However, I am surprised that YouTube continues to allow explicit videos of women stripping, physically hurting themselves, and starving themselves, all of which are easy to find using simple search terms."