Internet websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have provided an easy way for people to share their opinions on a wide variety of topics. Unfortunately, it has also provided a platform for harassment.
To help reduce instances of online harassment and hate speech, these sites have certain policies in place. If a user is found to violate these policies, their posts are removed and usually their account is deleted. But, not all videos and posts that involve mocking someone else are considered a violation of these policies. Most recently, for example, YouTube found that a certain user's homophobic slurs didn't violate the site's policies.
What Was the Issue?
Steven Crowder, who has a channel on YouTube, made various videos debunking a Vox video series called "Strikethrough." The problem? Crowder's videos included mocking and derogatory comments about Vox writer and video host Carlos Maza. These comments involved making fun Maza's ethnicity and sexuality.
While Crowder called his comments "harmless ribbing," Maza believes Crowder calling him a "lispy sprite" and a "gay Mexican" amounted to harassment. Maza says that Crowder's comments have also subjectedhim to personal attacks on personal online channels, such as Twitter and Instagram. Maza also said that he experienced even more harassment since speaking out against Crowder.
YouTube's cyberbullying and harassment policy prohibits "content or behavior intended to maliciously harass, threaten, or bully others." Additionally, the website's guidelines addressing hate speech bans the use of religious, racial, ethnic, or other slurs "where the primary purpose is to promote hatred."
Although YouTube said that it didn't support all viewpoints posted on its website, it also said that Crowder's comments didn't qualify as harassment, and was within its policies. YouTube was silent on whether the comments qualified as hate speech. In a tweet, YouTube said:
"Our teams spent the last few days conducting an in-depth review of the videos flagged to us, and while we found language that was clearly hurtful, the videos as posted don't violate our policies."
In follow up tweets, YouTube indicated that since it's an open platform, it's important for the site to allow people to express their opinions, including offensive ones, as long as they conform with their policies.