YouTube has tapped the Southern Poverty Law Center to help it police objectionable content, the Daily Caller reported this week.
What a disaster. YouTube couldn't have chosen a worse or less trustworthy partner.
The SPLC is a dishonest, irresponsible and obnoxiously partisan organization. Trusting them to decide what constitutes objectionable and “extremist” content, as YouTube’s more than 100 “Trusted Flaggers” have been asked to do, is like asking the inmates to run the asylum.
YouTube’s monitoring program dates to 2012. However, according to the Caller, it has “exploded in size in recent years amid a Google push to increase regulation of the content on its platforms, which followed pressure from advertisers.”
“Fifty of the 113 program members joined in 2017 as YouTube stepped up its content policing,” the report added. “[T]he third-party groups work closely with YouTube’s employees to crack down on extremist content in two ways … First, the flaggers are equipped with digital tools allowing them to mass flag content for review by YouTube personnel. Second, the partner groups act as guides to YouTube’s content monitors and engineers designing the algorithms policing the video platform but may lack the expertise needed to tackle a given subject.”
Spokespersons for the SPLC have not yet responded to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment. In the meantime, though, it’s worth repeating: This group is not to be taken seriously, especially when it comes to identifying objectionable content and so-called hate speech.
In 2015, for example. the group caught well-deserved criticism after it put Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on its “extremist watch list,” citing the one-time presidential candidate’s “anti-LGBT views.” Later, in 2016, the SPLC labeled women’s rights activist, female genital mutilation victim, atheist, and ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali an “anti-Muslim extremist” because she opposes Islamic extremism. The British activist and extremist-turned-counter-extremist Maajid Nawaz was placed in the same category.
The left-wing advocacy group lumps pro-family and pro-Israel organizations with actual neo-Nazis. If YouTube is serious about monitoring and rooting out actually objectionable content, this is not the way to go. The SPLC will slap the word “extremist” on just about anything so long as it's right-tilting.
While we’re on the topic of extremism, the SPLC is itself more closely tied to acts of political violence than many of the people and groups they monitor. One wonders if they have plans to add their own name to their “hate map.”
The SPLC is not in the business of making the world a more loving, tolerant and polite place. They are interested only in crushing anything to the right of the Democratic Party, not just crazy white nationalist groups.
Journalist Ken Silverstein, who has covered SPLC extensively, summed it up best in 2010 when he said the group is "essentially a fraud" with "a habit of casually labeling organizations as 'hate groups.'"
Update: An SLPC spokesperson confirmed in a statement to ThinkProgress that the organization is indeed a member of YouTube's "Trusted Flaggers" program. What a farce.