Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Dystopia, Links, Musings, Technology > On Linkage Between Nasim Aghdam and YouTube’s Monopolist Policies

On Linkage Between Nasim Aghdam and YouTube’s Monopolist Policies

I am sure that, by now, most of you heard about the shooting at YouTube’s headquarters by Nasim Aghdam. Regardless of what you think about her personality, the unintentional meme-friendliness of her videos or her general mental stability- its is clear that the incident in question was triggered by YouTube’s (and by extension, Google’s) completely unaccountable behavior towards its content creators and users. In that respect, Google is part of the general trend of Silly Valley corporations being monopolistic, autocratic and totally unaccountable. Given the amount of online hate about YouTube’s corporate behavior, policies and decision-making, I am surprised that such an incident did not occur sooner.

Amazon, Paypal, Facebook and pretty much every other large Silly Valley corporation have, in recent years, displayed very similar behavior when it comes to acting like autocratic monopolies. I hope to, soon, write a more detailed post about my views on the effect of such behavior as well as the kind of pushback it will eventually engender. Having said that, I am sure that this little incident is unlikely to change the attitude at Google anytime soon. Many of you must also be aware that YouTube is soon going to ban channels about guns. Surely such a move will be hailed by the public as an uncontroversial “common sense” decision without any pushback..

Link 1: Tragic YouTube shooting casts new light on creators’ “adpocalypse” complaints

As news unfolded about Tuesday’s YouTube shooting, a chilling motive emerged. Ahead of the incident, the alleged shooter had posted videos maligning the service—doing so as a former money-making user of the site. “I’m being discriminated [against] and filtered on YouTube, and I’m not the only one,” alleged shooter Nasim Aghdam said in a video that was shared after her identity as the shooting’s current, sole fatality was revealed. “My workout video gets age-restricted. Vegan activists and other people who try to point out healthy, humane, and smart living, people like me, are not good for big business. That’s why they are discriminating [against] and censoring us.”

YouTube’s automatic filters have wreaked demonetization havoc through a wide swath of video types, including those about conservative politics and LGBTQ issues. However, keeping track of which videos are impacted (and for how long) is itself quite difficult, owing to how many channels may be temporarily hit only to have those strikes reversed after an inefficient reviews process. The above-linked video about LGBTQ videos, for example, was itself demonetized when it was uploaded; it has since been whitelisted for ads.

One video made by alleged YouTube HQ shooter Aghdam, which was successfully archived before most of her online presence was wiped, focused primarily on YouTube flagging a video she’d recently made. Her complaint video included footage of the demonetized video, which showed a fully clothed Aghdam working out via sit-ups and leg lifts, as well as an allegation that YouTube rejected her appeal, telling her that the video was “inappropriate.”

Link 2: Livid over site’s policies, YouTube shooter trained for attack, shot randomly

Barberini provided a few more details about the incident, confirming that she was upset with the company’s “policies and practices.” Earlier videos—which have been removed from YouTube and Facebook but remain scattered in other places across the Internet—include clips of Aghdam railing against perceived grievances concerning age restrictions and demonetization. Last year, Google overhauled its age restriction rules and enforcement policy. This resulted in a wave of videos being demonetized, which angered YouTubers who could no longer attach money-making ads to their videos. Ruchika Budhraja, a Facebook spokeswoman, confirmed to Ars that the company had deleted Aghdam’s Facebook and Instagram accounts and wrote that the company would also “delete content that praises or supports the shooter or the horrific act as soon as we are aware.”

Link 3: YouTube shooter IDed as woman angry at site’s “age-restricted” policies

The San Bruno Police Department has identified the suspect in Tuesday’s shooting at the YouTube campus as Nasim Aghdam, a 39-year-old woman from San Diego. The confirmation came hours after numerous media sources had initially named Aghdam as the suspect. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Aghdam’s car was towed from the YouTube parking lot. Aghdam seemingly had a website in which she promotes numerous YouTube channels, including ones in English, Turkish, and Farsi. All of her social media channels appear to have been deactivated or removed. The woman seemed to be upset at YouTube over what she called “age-restricted” policies.

Link 4: YouTube Attacker’s Complaints Echoed Fight Over Ad Dollars

While the police did not specifically say what those policies were, they likely had to do with a concept called “demonetization.” In response to pressure from advertisers and consumers, YouTube has been pulling ads from thousands of videos that it decides do not meet its standards for content. That has sparked an outcry from many of the people who post videos to the service. One of those creators was Nasim Najafi Aghdam, the woman the police said had shot YouTube employees in San Bruno, Calif. She frequently posted videos to several YouTube channels and had become increasingly angry over the money she was making from them.

When YouTube pulls ads, it tells creators which videos violated the standards, though it doesn’t elaborate very much on what they did wrong. It’s unclear whether YouTube pulled ads from Ms. Aghdam’s videos.The anger around demonetization has been growing for more than a year. One of YouTube’s most popular personalities, Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, who goes by PewDiePie, posted videos with Nazi imagery, including a sign that called for “Death to Jews.” As a punishment, YouTube demonetized some of his videos in early 2017, though it didn’t outrightly bar him. Mr. Kjellberg, now calling himself “family-friendly,” still posts regularly and has a booming business on the platform.

A wide spectrum of YouTube creators, from the conspiracy-minded to the most popular stars, have been vocal about what they see as censorship on YouTube. After a popular video blogger who posts about news, Philip DeFranco, saw his videos demonetized, he called demonetization “censorship with a different name.” On Twitter, he wrote: “Producer just got off the phone with Youtube and it wasn’t a mistake. Feels a little bit like getting stabbed in the back after 10 years.” Luke Rudkowski, an independent journalist who describes conspiracy theories to his more than 500,000 subscribers on YouTube, has repeatedly complained about the site pulling ads from his videos.

In August, he posted a video criticizing news that YouTube would start removing more terrorist content. “We are seeing the purging, the cleaning of this major online institution to be more favorable towards corporations and governments,” Mr. Rudkowski said. “Now that’s why I think we’re finally reaching the end time of this beautiful and amazing platform.” A few days later, he said YouTube had pulled ads from 660 of his videos, “basically eviscerating my main source of revenue for this news organization.”

What do you think? Comments?

  1. P Ray
    April 5, 2018 at 11:36 am

    Facebook and Youtube/Google are places where you can be de-humanised at the click of a sweatshop censors’ button.
    Both are driven by armies in the thousands of algorithm refiners (not designers, because the initial prototype design is sent to them from on-high by the non-programmers Page and Brin).
    That’s also a tacit acknowledgement that groper Amitabh Kumar Singhal doesn’t do everything by himself.
    Plus they have thousands of censors looking through and checking that child porn and offensive statement are really offensive too.
    They’re disconnected from real people because they seem to have no idea that some people make a living off their platform.

    Anyway, hello to you Googlers in Sydney Australia (middle names used, they were at my university in NZ): Allan, Pieter, Leanne 🙂

  2. MikeCA
    April 5, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    YouTube/Google are in uncharted territory. YouTube is available world wide. Nasim Aghdam was producing Farsi language videos. Presumably people in Iran were viewing those videos too. So who’s standards apply to those videos? What would be appropriate for a video in the USA and in Iran are very different.

    Don’t you ever get disgusted by having to post pro-corporate and pro-establishment messages on blogs? Of course, I am assuming you have some ability for critical thought. Then again, who knows?

    This gets to a fundamental issue of the internet. Who decides what is “appropriate content” for the whole world. In very conservative countries like Iran they are very upset that people can see content that is legal in the USA but they find very objectionable.

    And countries that are openly hostile to western IT monopolies such as China do exactly that. The question is about should corporate “sensibilities” and “profit motives” be able to censor on what is essentially a privately-owned monopoly that is completely dependent on government benevolence to function and remain a private corporation.

    As far as I can tell, YouTube does not have enough people to screen all content. They have a complaint based review process. If somebody reports a video as inappropriate, then they review it. This process can be gamed by people. They can harass someone by reporting all their content.

    Who is forcing people to watch videos that offend them? For example- I rarely watch CNN or MSNBC because they are mediocre comedy channels, as opposed to anything approaching news. Similarly, if you do not want to catch a video of a gruesome car accident (for example), that is your prerogative- just as someone else has a right to watch it if they want.

  3. April 5, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    Uhhhh was, “she” a “he” at one point orrrrr ??????? LOL

    Apparently not.. she was just one of a kind. LOL

  4. April 5, 2018 at 10:11 pm

    Did you notice that little Elliot Rodger’s videos are still up on poohtube? I guess it’s not the guns that were the problem but rather questioning the Goolag that gets you sent down the memory hole…

    Yep.. the aspy losers at Google think they are special.

  5. P Ray
    July 23, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    The PayPal mafia, as they’re now called.

    Everybody else gets told “Work hard under these people and you’ll succeed”.

  1. April 7, 2018 at 1:11 pm

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