Independent video journalist Ford Fischer warned of online censorship corrupting the historical record via deletion of content documenting live events in a Thursday interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily with host Alex Marlow. He also discussed YouTube’s recent demonetization of his channel — including its removal of some of his videos, which harm his ability to produce independent journalism.
Following Vox Media’s Carlos Maza’s “pro-censorship campaign” against conservative comedian Steven Crowder, Fischer’s YouTube channel was demonetized as part of the Google subsidiary’s expanding political censorship. Fischer’s channel was caught up in what social media users are calling the #VoxAdpocalypse. On Wednesday, Fischer invited followers to support his work via donations to Patreon.
Today, @YouTube pulled the rug out from my income, my entire livelihood.
Follows are awesome. People tweeting to YouTube is cool.
— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) June 6, 2019
Fischer’s work is primarily video documentation of political activists’ events.
“My outlet is basically about raw footage,” explained Fischer. “I go to activists’ situations, protests, usually with two sides possibly in play. … So I go out and I film every side of a situation and I talk to every side of a situation, and I do livestreams and then YouTube videos that basically just display raw footage of the activism that goes on.”
Fischer continued, “It has very little, if any, commentary from me. We make captions and descriptions that are just enough context to understand what happens, but I really try to present the content in a way that allows the people to make their own decisions as they’re watching it about the points being made by sides of a given conflict.”
Fischer went on, “My outlet is not left-wing or right-wing. It doesn’t endorse any particular side of the activism that I’m covering, but a lot of it has focused on extremism or elements that YouTube probably considers to be unsavory, and wouldn’t want those people posting on YouTube themselves.”
“It seems that YouTube picked up on my coverage as a reason to demonetize my entire channel and delete a few of my videos,” speculated Fischer, who said YouTube had not explained its censorship of his content.
“[My videos] are entirely for the sake of history and news purposes, stated Fischer, “They’ve been used in a couple of dozen documentaries. This is not meant as propaganda for any given side, this is for history and news’ sake.”
Fischer determined, “I put the blame squarely on Big Tech. I put the blame squarely on YouTube. I know there’s a lot of attention, right now, on Vox itself and even on Carlos, in particular. In my opinion, he’s one of so many people who call for Big Tech censorship.”
“At the end of the day, the question is: ‘Is YouTube going to bow down to that sort of pressure, and if they do, how narrowly are they going to do it?'” asked Fischer.
Fischer noted the “arbitrary and vague” nature of censorship deployed by Silicon Valley-based technology companies, which include prohibitions against “hate speech” and other indefinable categories of expression.
“I do think it underlines a issue of censorship, though, which is that the more arbitrary and vague rules that you apply, the harder it is to understand what content isn’t going to be acceptable,” assessed Fischer. “I think that it’s clearly demonstrable that my work is useful for history’s purposes. … It has historical value and relevance.”
Fischer remarked, “They haven’t given me any kind of specifics about what exactly they would expect from me in order to reinstate my account fully.”
Breitbart News Daily broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.