Why is YouTube Erasing History? | NYT Opinion

being uploaded on the internet every day. Evidence of crimes against
humanity and war crimes. FIfty-eight countries urged
the United Nations to refer these war crimes to
the International Criminal Court. Content moderation is
kind of like the referee of the internet – calling what’s in and out
of bounds and removing inappropriate posts. Let’s say I’m on
a YouTube binge and I see a video
with child porn in it. I report it to YouTube. That’s called flagging. The video then gets
sent to content moderators whose job it is
to review flagged videos. And they then decide whether
to leave it up or remove it from the platform. Well, it got
complicated in 2017. That year, YouTube
started relying much more on machine-learning
technology to flag content. “No amount of people
that we can hire will be enough to review
all of the content. We now have A.I. systems that
can identify and take down 99 percent of the Al Qaeda- and
ISIS-related content in our system before someone,
a human, even flags it us. I think we need to
do more of that.” Now, Facebook,
YouTube and Twitter get a huge amount
of content uploaded to their sites every day. YouTube gets 300 hours
uploaded per minute. These companies
are under a ton of pressure from
governments to quickly get rid of the harmful stuff. But it’s become a
double-edged sword, and essential human
rights content is getting caught in the net. The bottom line
is, computers may be good at detecting
violence but they’re just not as nuanced as humans. They’re not as good
at figuring out whether a video
is ISIS propaganda or vital human
rights documentation. [PENSIVE MUSIC] [PENSIVE MUSIC]

Comments 100

  • Like changing a news article to read "Republican" instead of "Russian", that kind of erasing history?

  • Sadly, easier said than done.

  • Hey NYT, you assert a problem, why don't you provide a solution? Start your own video service and have the people upload their videos there.

  • Censorship

    Private company

  • YouTube is erasing history? What about you guys and erasing the accusation of being a Russian spy against Tulsi and changing it to Republican without adding that it's a correction and pretending it's the original YouTube might erase history but apparently it would be ok if they just rewrote it.

  • We definitely need human oversight of AI content takedowns. If there is no appeals process… that would be corrupt.

  • This is so important. Please spread this!

  • youtube might erasing history, NYT is stealth editing their own article about Russia grooming Tulsi Gabbard

  • Unlist the videos bro. You can still have them on Youtube they're just not publicly listed. In terms of evidence it's a good file storage

  • I think one of the bigger issues here is that apparently there are only 2 multinationals in the world (both from the USA) that monopolize the video market. Lack of competition equals lost history. Those companies are too big and the Congress might have to break them up. There's no way anybody other than China can compete with them, and that is not good news.

  • My only problem is how to differentiate the real content from the propaganda videos. Social media is the biggest dumpster in the universe, you are bombarded with content and you have no way to know whats real and what is not.


  • Just hope this video isn’t getting erased

  • Videos being taken down from YouTube shouldn't be deleting evidence unless you uploaded it to YouTube and then deleted it from your hard drive. That would be the uploader's stupid mistake.

    Censorship is definitely a problem, and we should be allowed to see what's happening around the world, but don't claim this is something it's not or blame your negligent protection of evidence on YouTube.

  • Waiting for this video to be taken down…

  • No to regime change and the media cabal making the biding for it, we have seen the end result of both Iraq and Libya

  • . . . an A.I will learn from our behaviours???? In short, the future is fcuked.

  • You can just upload it to your own WordPress site

  • YouTube isn’t a public utility, it’s a company and they can do whatever they want.

    If you want your videos online then set up your own site.

  • The Bible speaks of Syria and it's demise.

  • Is the American narrator a man or a woman?

  • Start hiring people at a fair wage… Work from home… I'm sure they could find enough takers to make human moderation possible

  • Who is YT head product manager on linkedin?

  • Sorry, but seeing NYT pretend to care about YouTube censorship is just too ironic. It’s also EXTREMELY ironic that they think anti Assad videos are purposely erased by YouTube – whose censorship is run by the ADL.

    None of this adds up at all. What are you guys scheming here? 😆

  • The question is why is YouTube suppressing Tulsi Gabbard's channel inside the United States!!! Why is YouTube suppressing conservative channels? Because the CEO OF YOUTUBE IS SJW SCUM. That's why.

  • This was always a grey area but the media applied this pressure for YouTube and Facebook to make it black and white. Your solution doesn't work either because there's too much content to review and giving such a power to someone will just lead to exploitation and censorship with the reviewer's bias. If you want to carry out journalism, use liveleak. This one is not YouTube's fault.

  • I'm watching on YouTube 🤷🏾‍♂️😌

  • Never take democracy for granted.

  • just upload them as unlisted lmao

  • youtube has been censoring dissent since 2013, why is this news? because it finally happened to something they care about. they didn't speak up for other's free speech and now they've lost their own.

  • lmao this guy is a bellingcat-associated hack though

    the content probably isn't extremist and shouldn't be removed, i agree, but calling the videos evidence of anything is another thing entirely

  • I know there are definite problems with YouTube censorship, but someone thinking about YouTube as a place to preserve vital human rights violations evidence is making a big mistake. There are many other more suitable ways to preserve this kind of evidence.

  • YouTube isn't the best place to host these kind of videos. Upload them to Liveleak or Bestgore instead

  • What it shows everyone is that everything is being monitored all the time. I think the reason for these videos being taken down is to try and stop extremist groups from forming and in turn attack who they think are responsible. It’s a sad time we live in. Alas… The suffering has now begun.

  • Why are you not backing up the videos you want to keep?

  • Just upload it to other sites.

    Also it just baffles me that certain videos that show human rights violations.

    There will be comments of
    "CiA diD diZ"

  • This is sad, but you should never use a service that someone else can moderate as storage.

  • It's the Information Age form of book-burning.

  • It is necessary to recover the written news and the printed photos, because the whole Web is compromised and serves those who pay more.

  • When did YouTube become a storage for evidence of crimes? Is a Social Media COMPANY. It relies on advertising. Has its owns policies.
    Want to storage videos? Get a Mega/Dropbox account. Or pay a premium account in YT and make all your videos private. News media companies just want to blame the platform for everything.

  • Obviously u can't depend on social media to record history. They r either erasing evidence or presenting facts from their angle dat suit their agenda.

  • So maybe New papers shouldn't over react to every single youtuber. Then the company wont be freaking out over every little "ad friendly" idea.

    Unfortunately, although I enjoy the NY Times, they are partly responsible.

  • Not to mention all of the history channels being deleted

  • YouTube bows to Governments that is why

  • Why is the content lost? I have backup storage for all of my stuff. When I upload from my phone the video on my phone is still there, it's not lost. I'm gonna have to call B. S. The bomb drop video was less than convincing. It could have been an amalgamation of several videos. With proper editing the automated censor system should be rather easy to sidestep so what's really happening?

  • I also watched a video on moderators for Facebook who view flagged videos. They speak on how it affects them mentally as they have to watch for actual these to occur first before they remove it (like suicide).

  • Create a special category uploaders can choose youtube, history deserves to be preserved, it's a hard problem but you got this.

  • I think it's time to leave youtube

  • Bro honestly why da fuq is there war over there do people not realize we only live once literally then who knows where we go god or something else

  • Business as usual

  • Hadi Al Khatib speaks well enough that the his speech doesn't need to be accompanied by subtitles. I suspect anyone viewing this is familiar enough with 'world Englishes' to be able to follow him. If you argue that people may not be able to understand his accent, I wonder why the other voices didn't come with subtitles. Just some food for thought.

  • Liveleak, the YNC etc. are cancer in some ways, but at least they don't censor any videos.

  • Why store important videos on youtube? Keep hard copies, use other sites. Youtube and facebook are the last places I would store important evidence.

  • As long as they leave BestGore. com alone.. .

  • Sick of seeing mutilated bodies on what is essentially an entertainment platform. If you have evidence of war crimes present your evidence to the War Crimes Tribunal and stop traumatizing our kids on YouTube…

  • Even if youtube deleted it, as long as u got copy as the real owner, evidence is not lost my dear. Ur complaint is not valid. YOUTUBE is not a museum or library to keep ur own stuff. Its ur obligation to keep ur own proof of evidence, for ur own war lawsuit. How do u think that youtube knows that the deleted video is important evidence? I can understand youtube because thats not the kind of content i would like my nephews to see. Maybe ur can create ur own apps for such violence. Not everyone wants to be depressed or to induce violence or crimes. Lets say we saw and watch it, what can we do? Does it helps u for views if we feel depressed about it? U weight in ur thoughts. Sometimes awareness doesnt help if they cannot do anything. I can understand you, but do u understand other people?


  • Of course, YouTube uses bot to delete it, but at least allows it to be appealed.

    Here what I suggest:
    1. Have your account verified (as journalist).
    2. YouTube's bot should know that it is a content for journalism.

  • I refuse to let liberals re write history to support their narratives and false notions

  • YouTube is PG-13

  • NYT be careful or your account will get deleted:)

  • It's in their ToC – they don't allow videos of wars and such. I mean, as much as I wish they would, and if this is a plea to help change it then more power to you, but as it stands, you can't really blame YT for adhering to their own ToC.

  • I don't yet see a clear cut solution for this issue. Say one or more moderators were sympathetic to an oppressive country or leader and were passing on videos that should be restricted. Who will moderate the moderators?

  • When you upload war crimes footage, just remember to title it something like: "Hilarious Cat Video…Must See!!!" Guaranteed to get a million hits before the take down.

  • To be honest, YouTube is just a hosting platform. If a video is posted there and is useful as evidence, it should be downloaded and stored somewhere else more securely no?


  • Good video. I had no idea this was happening to videos like these on such a large scale.

  • The kids 😢

  • Ok somebody make a video platform like a wartv for these warzone journos safely to upload their content without ignorance cencorship

  • Ok somebody make a video platform like a wartv or something for these warzone journos to safely upload their content without ignorant cencorship

  • The content of war is usually very graphic, and brutal. However, you can download the videos from YouTube and hand them into the international court. YouTube isn’t the right platform of showing graphic material, it should not be forgotten that children can watch all of this. Every broadcast platform has its rules about serious graphic content. The Assad regime is going wild since ages, his private police tortured thousands. It is important that he is captured and sentenced. But this does not mean to have bloody war crime videos on YouTube. Those videos can traumatize, and they should get in first place into professional hands like the U.N.

  • join Voice.com

  • This video: stop erasing history YouTube.

    YouTube: erases the video

  • I imagine it could be quite traumatic for a content moderator to be reviewing violent and other restricted content all day

  • Google covering up war crimes. Imagine my shock. 🙄

  • I think youtube is pro Trump. I think thats why the commercials fall on a story the way they do. I really dont trust them anymore.

  • For this same reason History Channels are leaving youtube.

  • If YouTube has community guidelines against violence then that is the rule. YouTube censors American political views, what makes you think that violent war videos should not be censored. Create your own site, to allow Syrians to upload to and you keep it viewable and safe. He meetings using moderators grin with in the countries does that mean YouTube must hire an equal amount of pro Assad citizens and anti Assad citizens? Because ultimately adding humans to the equation brings bias. The AI is only as biased as it is programmed.

  • "Before someone HUMAN "" this guy speaks like a robot

  • Its all about the money i hope this video doesn't get taken down exactly why i will never put money,likes,ect on facebook and you tube so many different sites out there

  • youtube gets worse each year. They should rename it "OurTube".

  • And now they keep spamming Democratic politician Ads… but not one Republican… hmmmm makes you think what party has a bigger grasp on YouTube.

  • Maybe some use YouTube? That's not what it was ever designed for.

  • Give certain credible organizations a general "pass" so their videos must be reviewed by humans only when they are flagged.

  • Liveleak is better for keeping videos, they have lot's of violence from the Syrian jihadists who this man stands up for and from the forces of Bashar al-Assad the hero.

  • Cs they can get sued u dum dum

  • Guys am I the only one here who thinks this is ridiculous? They are uploading violent war scenes to a public site which everyone, including kids, can access and view. You want to keep videos? Back them up on your computer, or on the cloud (google drive and google photos are free services). If you’ve got access to YouTube, you’ve got access to google photos.

  • What kind of MORON downvotes this clip? It’s been downvoted a hundred times so far 😡

  • Google, Facebook and Twitter have way too much power. It’s time to control more their activities and stop their monopolies 💪🏻


  • also, 99,99% of "evidence" talked about here is staged or "framed" in a way to hide the truth and produce atrocity propaganda, in behalf of AQ and ISIS and other jihadist terrorist groups and their agenda.

  • I agree with the sentiment but it's just not feasible. Again, 300 hours uploaded per minute! Impossible for humans to do that work. We just have to develop better AI. In the meantime, why not upload the videos to a different website?

  • But….what is the end goal of posting war crimes online? This new generation has a strange sense of justice.

  • Ever heard of a backup?

  • Focking google likes to keep all oure information and delete information that isnt in thare political favor

  • Why don’t they just give channels documenting human rights violations special permissions or exemptions from take downs by the algorithm, they can still be taken down, just reviewed by a human moderator first, instead of AI, to determine whether it needs to be removed.

  • If videos like that is deleted something is really wrong with YouTube.Thanks for the information.

  • Why is the NY times erasing Sanders from its coverage?

    Why is the NY times lying about Hillary Clintons comments? And covering for her lies about Tulsi Gabard?

    You huys use to rebel reporters now you are corporate slaves.

  • The problem isn't the algorithms. It's the people programming the algorithms to stiffel free speech. Don't blame censorship on a machine.

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