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Free Speech Crackdown: YouTubers Concerned By Site’s New Harassment Policy

Dozens of YouTubers have released videos protesting YouTube’s new harassment policy changes, claiming the move to be the start of a crackdown on freedom of speech.

The site’s new broadened definition of harassment, an infraction that can be punished with accounts being suspended, includes “Deliberately posting content in order to humiliate someone” and “Making hurtful and negative comments/videos about another person”, potentially threatening many YouTube accounts that create parodies, criticism, and reaction videos.

“We want you to use YouTube without fear of being subjected to malicious harassment. In cases where harassment crosses the line into a malicious attack, it can be reported and the content will be removed. In other cases, users may be mildly annoying or petty and should simply be ignored” announced YouTube in their change, however many accounts have not reacted lightly.

“Many users are saying well is there a department, is there a specific person that is deciding what is hate speech and what is not?” said popular YouTube star Philip DeFranco, who has over 4 million subscribers in his new skeptical video.

“Is this just meant to stop the sixteen year-old in high school who makes a whole video called ‘Stephany is a slut’, where you’re just shouting hate speech and obviously harassing, or will that also then extend to other people criticizing other YouTubers, celebrities, politicians, whoever… This terms of service change feels very much like a wildcard, and it makes me nervous because if they start enforcing this too liberally, what does that mean for censorship here on YouTube? Because that’s essentially what this could become”.

“What about the morons who think that when I criticize the ideology of Islam, that I’m somehow attacking individual people when I’m not?” asked popular YouTuber MrRepzion, who has nearly 500 thousand followers and frequently criticizes different people and ideologies, including Islam and feminism. “Could they not just mass-flag my video and get it removed for ‘hate on people’ when it has nothing to do with people, it has to do with the belief system?”

“Sometimes, criticism and insults can escalate into more serious forms of harassment and cyberbullying. If specific threats are made against you and you feel unsafe, tell a trusted adult and report it to your local law enforcement agency” concludes the harassment policy page, disregarding the fact that the majority of popular YouTubers are adults themselves.

Numerous other YouTube channels have also made videos attacking the new terms of service update, with very few defending it, however YouTube has yet to address the concerns that many of its largest users have put forward.

Charlie Nash is a reporter for Breitbart Tech and former editor of the Squid Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @MrNashington or like his page at Facebook.

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