YouTube Heroes idea could spiral into mob rule

YouTube wants to moderate its site better, but at what cost?


Courtesy of Rego Korosi

The YouTube Heroes program was established to help moderate YouTube, but there are fears that said heroes will compromise the globally-popular video site.

Leon La Jeunesse, News Editor, Scottsdale Chronicle

YouTube started as a small video-sharing website where anyone with a camera could upload any video for the entire Internet to see.  What was once a home for goofy home videos and endless cat videos has now become one of the world’s largest media sites for both entertainment and news.  The unique thing about YouTube was even though major corporations and networks like Comedy Central and NBC have made their presence felt through ads and channels, there have always been channels created and put together by real people.  Any person at any time can create a video that is uniquely theirs and see their channel and content grow.  

This very thing that made YouTube a special place is now in serious danger, and it is from YouTube itself that this threat looms.  Whether intended or not, the YouTube Heroes program may be the instrument that brings the site into unwanted territory.

Recently, many social media websites have come under pressure to start regulating and controlling cyber bullying.  The problem with sites like YouTube and others is that the amount of active users on these sites is so large that the man-power it would take to regulate all unsettling activity outweighs the ability that these companies have.  

On Sept. 20, YouTube launched a new program named YouTube Heroes.  As described in the released video detailing the program, the goals of YouTube Heroes is for the participant to earn points by adding subtitles and captions to videos, reporting “negative content” and “sharing knowledge” with others.  

While for some this does not seem like a bad idea, the 900,000-plus dislikes the video has received tells a different story.  The reality is this is a terrible decision by YouTube, as now virtually anybody can moderate and report content they deem unacceptable.

That’s right, anybody can participate in this program, anyone from the “trigged SJW” crowd to white nationalists.  As they continue to work in the program doing activities like the ones listed, people can earn “points” in the program and work their way up, gaining new features like mass flagging videos and moderating comment sections.  It would be one thing if there were people that YouTube had hired and done background research on, but they haven’t.

That could get very ugly very fast.  

With the video getting nearly a million dislikes and other unique YouTube channels like Chris Ray Gun and others giving specific critiques on the program, it would seem that the most logical course of action would be for YouTube to dismantle the program and come up with a good solution to the problems that the site has.

Eventually YouTube did a semi-right thing and changed the wording of the most-heavily critiqued statement, from reporting “negative content” to reporting “inappropriate videos accurately.” But YouTube is sticking with its YouTube Heroes program.

While this columnist may be overreacting, time will tell whether this program helped bring cyber bullying to a stop or if this ushered in a new form of online harassment and censorship.

Once prominent YouTubers begin to see their channel and content get targeted and potentially removed, then YouTube will see how their consumers will react.