YouTube demonetized two Jordan Peterson videos

YouTube has quietly stopped running ads for a pair of videos featuring controversial Canadian professor Jordan Peterson, deliberately confusing actor Elliot Page and comparing gender-affirming care for transgender people to medical experimentation of the Nazi era.

why is it important: The move is likely to anger Peterson’s online supporters, who say the platform shouldn’t interfere with his speech at all – but it won’t satisfy his critics either, who believe his remarks amount to a forbidden speech which should be removed.

Driving the news:

  • In late June, Twitter forced Peterson to remove misinterpreted tweets. The service has a policy that prohibits gender misdirection and targeted dead names as a form of harassment of transgender people.
  • Peterson then posted a 15-minute YouTube video attacking Twitter and its policies. The video repeatedly misnamed and misgendered Page, while railing against gender-affirming healthcare and calling transgender identity a “viciously harmful fad.”
  • A second Peterson video declares gender-affirming care – endorsed by the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association and many other professional groups – to be flat-out false. “It’s not just wrong,” he says. “It’s wrong at the level of Auschwitz and the Gulag. It’s wrong at the level of Nazi medical experiments.”
  • YouTube demonetized both videos in recent weeks, meaning neither the platform nor Peterson will be able to earn revenue directly from the ads shown there.. (The first video has over 3 million views and the second has surpassed 500,000 views.) However, YouTube left the videos up and continues to run ads on Peterson’s other videos.

What they say : “We set the bar very high for which videos can make money on YouTube,” YouTube told Axios in response to a survey. “Many videos that are allowed on YouTube can’t be monetized because they don’t meet our ad guidelines.” Both of Peterson’s videos “violate our advertising policies regarding hateful and derogatory content, and have been demonetized.”

Between the lines: Although YouTube also has a hate speech policy and a harassment policy that can result in videos being removed, a wide range of anti-transgender content is allowed to remain online.

  • YouTube, for example, states in its policy that it prohibits content that features “prolonged slurs or malicious insults based on intrinsic attributes, including sexual orientation or gender identity.”
  • However, he does not consider someone deliberately misinterpreting someone, even repeatedly, as a violation of this rule.
  • YouTube said it has been actively reviewing this policy over the past several months, but acknowledges that no changes have been made.
  • Peterson did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The big picture: Social media politics on these issues has taken on increased importance as transgender rights have become a focal point for American politicians on both sides of the aisle.

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) posted a pair of tweets last month attacking and misrepresenting Adm. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the highest-ranking transgender person in the Biden administration.
  • Twitter flagged the tweets for violating its rules, but allowed the two to remain on the service based on a practice to often label — but not delete — tweets from elected officials that would otherwise violate its terms of service.

A recent GLAAD report highlighted the connection between discussions on social media and the ideas and language found in anti-trans legislation. The same report gave all major social media networks failing grades in keeping their users safe.

  • “By demonetizing these two videos, YouTube confirms that Jordan Peterson’s hate-motivated anti-trans rhetoric violates the platform’s Community Guidelines,” a GLAAD spokesperson told Axios.
  • However, according to the organization, YouTube should have removed the videos entirely. “It is shameful that these videos remain active, with millions of views, continuing to perpetuate hateful and false narratives at the expense of trans people everywhere.”

be smart: Activists on all sides know the limits of each service’s policies. Those on the left are pushing for tougher rules on hate speech and tougher enforcement of policies already in place. Meanwhile, many on the right are actively flouting the existing rules, using any punitive action as an opportunity to argue to their supporters that they are “cancelled”.

  • While the specter of demonetization may help deter some from breaking YouTube’s rules, critics say YouTube is far too reliant on this technique. They note that controversial content creators can use demonetized videos to drive traffic to other videos that host ads, as well as merchandise, Patreon streams, and other revenue streams.

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