YouTube’s Age Restrictions on News Videos: A Dangerous Step Towards Censorship
In recent years, YouTube has faced a barrage of criticism and scrutiny over its content moderation policies. One of the most contentious issues in this debate is YouTube’s decision to place an 18 and over age gate on news videos related to terrorist attacks, even when they are sourced from large, credible news organizations like NBC, CNN, or CBS. This policy has raised concerns about censorship, freedom of information, and whether YouTube is ready to take on the role of a cable TV provider.
The Implications of Age Restrictions
YouTube’s implementation of age restrictions on news videos concerning terrorist attacks seems well-intentioned at first glance. The platform claims it’s an effort to prevent graphic content from reaching younger audiences, which is understandable given the disturbing nature of such events. However, this approach raises several critical issues that need to be addressed.
Censorship of News:
By placing age restrictions on news videos, YouTube is essentially engaging in censorship. The news is a fundamental source of information and education for people of all ages. Denying access to this information based on age is a clear infringement on freedom of information. Young people have the right to be informed about important global events and should not be shielded from the harsh realities of the world.
Discrimination Against Online News Sources:
It’s important to note that YouTube’s restrictions apply to news videos posted by online news organizations just as much as they do to independent creators. By imposing age restrictions on these videos, YouTube is effectively discriminating against online news sources. This is in stark contrast to traditional cable or network news channels, which are not subject to any age requirement. It’s as if YouTube is saying that online journalism is less credible and trustworthy, which is an unfair and unjust assumption.
The Responsibility of the Viewer:
YouTube’s decision to act as an arbiter of content for its users implies that it believes its users are incapable of making informed decisions about what they watch. The platform seems to underestimate its users, forgetting that they have the autonomy to make their own choices regarding the content they consume. In a democratic society, individuals have the right to access information and decide for themselves what they want to see.
YouTube’s Aspiration as a Cable TV Provider
YouTube has made it clear that it aspires to be more than just a video-sharing platform; it wants to be a cable TV provider. However, with this aspiration comes greater responsibility. Cable TV providers have traditionally operated under strict regulations, with clearly defined standards for censorship and content control. If YouTube wants to take on the role of a cable TV provider, it should be prepared to adhere to these standards and the principles of free speech that have underpinned the media industry for generations.
YouTube Isn’t Ready to Be a News Source
YouTube’s decision to place an 18 and over age gate on news videos related to terrorist attacks, even when they are from reputable news organizations, is a dangerous form of censorship that undermines the principles of freedom of information and the role of news media in society. By restricting access to such content, YouTube is doing a disservice to its users and to the fundamental principles of a democratic society.
While it’s important to protect younger viewers from harmful content, this can be achieved through better age verification methods rather than blanket censorship of news videos. YouTube must tread carefully in its aspirations to become a cable TV provider and remember the importance of preserving free access to news and information for all, regardless of age.