Censorship on YouTube
The world has become closer than in the past because of technology. Internet is the best media to spread new information to other places. I became interested in YouTube because I think YouTube is a very famous website that almost everybody uses. Rankin (2007) said, “YouTube is a video-sharing website that is changing American culture. It seems that every day, some short video clip on YouTube makes headline news. Here”s the story behind the phenomenal success of YouTube, and some tips on how you can join the fun…” (para. 1). There are many kinds of videos on YouTube, such as news, music videos, and funny videos that make users enjoy themselves. According to Carlson (2008), YouTube’s revenue will be $90 million in 2008. This is one of the statistics to guarantee that YouTube is one of the most famous websites in the world. However, YouTube has some mistakes that cause misunderstanding. According to Naim (2007), “The YouTube effect has brought other mixed blessings. It is now harder to know what to believe. How do we know that what we see in a video clip posted by a ‘citizen journalist’ is not a montage? How do we know, for example, that the YouTube video of terrorized American soldiers crying and praying for their lives while under fire was filmed in Iraq and not staged somewhere else to manipulate public opinion? The more than 86,000 people who viewed it in the first 10 days of its posting will never know” (para. 6). Some videos on YouTube are too violent for children. It also has inappropriate videos that should not be posted on YouTube. For example, YouTube posted a clip video that insulted the King of Thailand (The Nation, 2007). Another example is that YouTube posted videos about teasing politicians that made people confused (Akerman, 2007). From “Business in the hotseat over Net censorship” (Toronto Star, 2008), we know that many countries, such as China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, Turkey, and Thailand, have tried to block access to YouTube because of offending videos.
There are many reasons to show that YouTube should censor some videos, because some videos have too much violence that are harmful for children, some videos hurt other people’s feeling, and bad videos may hurt YouTube’s image.
The first reason that YouTube should censor videos before posting is that some videos are dangerous for children. Danger includes words, violence, and sex. Nowadays, children use internet to search for information almost every day. It is very easy to see what they want on some video clips. Some videos are cartoons, but actors and actresses use impolite words. Some videos on YouTube do not use very impolite words, but the comments by watchers following them are (Ellis-Christensen, n.d.). Children may think these words are normal words that everybody uses in daily life. Moreover, there are too many violent video clips on YouTube. Internet is the most free channel to share information. Some information or pictures can not be shown on television, but all can be shown on the internet. For example, some pictures show a car bomb in Iraq that has corpses in horrible pictures. Furthermore, some clips show bad events in which people try to kill each other. If people watch these video clips too much, they may become tolerant and they may think it is a usual event that can happen everywhere. When they are very angry, they may copy the behaviors that they have seen on the internet to solve their problems. In addition, a lot of clips in YouTube are about sex. According to Cooper (2007), “None of this is meant to trivialize the challenge. A recent University of New Hampshire study found that 4 out of 10 American youths, ages 10 to 17, have seen pornography online, and two-thirds say it was uninvited. That means there”s a very good chance your kids are going to see penises, vaginas, breasts and any combination thereof rubbing against each other. Without you even knowing” (para. 12). This is a scary statistic that almost half of children watch pornography on the internet. YouTube also provide many videos that are similar on the same topic. For example, if children search for the sexual video clips, YouTube will show other clips that are about sex. It is very easy for children to see other nude clip videos that are more and more dangerous for them. Children are too young to learn about sex by watching video by themselves. It also may be dangerous to their studying, because they just want to use internet to watch video clips all the time, and do not pay attention to their studying.
The second reason is the detail in some videos can hurt watchers’ feelings. Some videos have pictures about killing each other. When some watchers see these videos, watchers may feel depressed. Moreover, some videos insult someone that some people love. For example, YouTube shows videos that insult The Thai King. YouTube should learn who the Thai King is, and how important he is to Thai people. According to Biggs (2008), “Imagine how shocked I was when I found this website from the USA which talked about the Thai celebrations. The news story was talking about how wonderful it was that Thais wore yellow throughout the celebrations, and it spoke of the deep feeling of love Thais have towards their King. But … at the end of the news story there were a series of comments from readers. One or two of them were very obnoxious. They said shocking things about the King; even I was very surprised as I read them. I left the website thinking, “Why would people write such cruel and nasty things about a situation they didn’t even know about?” (para. 2, 3). Andrew Biggs is not Thai, but he knows and understands how Thai people love their King. People who are going to do something should know all details before doing it. It is especially true when they want to express something by using the media. They should have more responsibility because watchers are not only writers, but also people around the world. If they show some things that are wrong information to the public, watchers may believe all detail that they consume, and they may misunderstand. YouTube also posted videos that tease the U.S. presidential candidates. These videos can make people confused about which one is his or her real character between a reliable and funny person. Lowry (2007) said, “Since when do we want our politics ‘controlled’ by anyone? Anyone, anywhere, the worriers say, can post negative material about candidates. So what? Positive ads are often as misleading as negative ones. This is a point implicitly made by someone who posted on YouTube a Rudy Giuliani ad from his 1993 mayoral campaign that depicted him, in sickeningly gauzy terms, as an utterly devoted family man. How”s that for dishonest advertising?” (para. 8). Some people want to frame up a rival by posting obnoxious videos in order to hurt a rival’s image that may make watcher confused. If people get confused because of YouTube, they may decide to change to use other websites that provide similar videos, but do not make them feel bad like YouTube.
The third reason is that these bad videos may hurt YouTube’s image. Image in business is very important for companies. Williams (n.d.) said, “For starters, your image should reflect your company’s personality (or brand) – which, to some degree, is your personality because you are the owner of your business. It should also reflect your industry, along with your customer’s expectations and the defining attributes of your products and services” (para. 3). Image can tell the class of your product. It also can tell a kind of customers. Now, consumers not only want to consume some products that they want, but they are worried about their image. If they consume good image products, it means they have a good image, too. In the same way, if YouTube has a good image that provides qualified videos, users want to use this website, because they do not have to worry about what they are going to see. In contrast, if YouTube has a bad image such that everybody thinks YouTube has many bad videos, users may stop using YouTube. For example, if YouTube provides bad videos that everybody can see, including children, parents may feel bad about YouTube and don’t want to see videos anymore. Moreover, in the case of Thailand, not only Thai people feel bad about videos insulting the Thai King, but also watchers all over the world may feel bad with YouTube. Another example is the case of Indonesia, in which YouTube posted clips about Islam. According to Popa (2008), “I am a Muslim and am also offended by that video on YouTube, but the website ban is just too much, YouTube ban was too much and that MySpace ban is just ridiculously unreasonable. You might think that by banning YouTube would resolve the problem but no, hey we”re not the only ones in Indonesia, we have people of other religions as well and this would only result in bad image for the Muslims yet again” (para. 6). There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world (Wraith, 2006). If all Muslims around the world protest YouTube about these videos, YouTube will face a very big problem with their image. So, YouTube should try to protect its image in order to keep their users and get more in the future.
It is true that children may copy some behaviors after they watch bad videos. Some people may argue that parents should monitor the sites their children visit, should limit the time their children spend online and should know what their children watch; however, we have to think that children spend most of their time in school. It is about 8 hours per day. Every school has a computer for students and the teacher can not take care of each person-to-person. When they go back home, parents have to cook for them and do the housework. Parents do not have time to check what their children are doing all the time. YouTube has argued that it has banned pornography for children under 13. In practical reality, when users want to see nude videos, they have to register and inform of their age before watching these videos. How can YouTube prove the age of users? They can register by using a fake age and wrong information, because they know that nobody can check their information. It is very easy to register and to see pornography on YouTube. However, television is one of the most popular media that is easy to reach. Some programs on television are shown at specific times. It is especially programs about sex. These programs are shown on television in the depth of night, when all children are already sleep. It is a good way to protect them from seeing inappropriate programs. YouTube can use this method to prohibit children, too.
From the case of Thailand, some have said that Thai people have to accept the freedom of the internet and not be serious about the Thai King videos. Moreover, some have told YouTube to block these videos only in Thailand. People from different countries should know that the Thai King is like a father of every Thai person. It doesn’t matter whether Thai people can see these videos or not, but Thai people do not want other people in other countries to insult their King. If you were them, do you want some people to make ridiculous pictures of your father and mock him? Do not say anything if you do not exactly know about that. YouTube is the key cause of this problem. YouTube’s revenue may reach $90 million this year. Why can’t YouTube share their profit to set up a censorship department? It should be good if YouTube shows its responsibility for watchers that can help to improve its image.
These three reasons make it very clear why YouTube should censor some videos before posting. There are some videos that are bad examples for children. Children may copy bad behavior after they watch these videos, and their parents can’t control their action all the time. Moreover, watchers feel bad after watching videos that insult a person who is loved by other people. People in insulted countries will be angry if YouTube posts these videos, because they do not want somebody to laugh at their respected person. In addition, YouTube has to share its profit to set up a censorship department. YouTube should censor bad videos to keep its image in order to keep its customers.