YouTube has kicked a half-dozen hate-mongering channels off the platform for good, including those operated by white supremacist Richard Spencer, ex-Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and far-right provocateur Stefan Molyneaux.
“We have strict policies prohibiting hate speech on YouTube, and terminate any channel that repeatedly or egregiously violates those policies,” a YouTube representative said in a statement.
On Monday, YouTube banned six channels for hate-speech violations: Spencer‘s main channel and his channel for the National Policy Institute/Radix Journal; Molyneux’s and Duke’s channels; and white-nationalist group American Renaissance and the affiliated AmRen Podcasts.
Messages on the channels that have been booted say, “This account has been terminated due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy prohibiting hate speech.”
The moves come under YouTube’s updated hate-speech policy, adopted a year ago, that bans videos and channels “alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status.” It also explicitly prohibits videos espousing conspiracy theories denying that certain violent events took place, like the Holocaust.
According to YouTube, after the update “to better address supremacist content” the platform increased video removals fivefold and to date has “terminated over 25,000 channels for violating our hate speech policies.”
Molyneux’s main channel had 928,000 subscribers before YouTube shut it down, according to social-media analytics firm Social Blade. Duke’s channel had 85,000 subs; Spencer’s had just 3,000 and NPI/Radix had 21,600. American Renaissance had 134,000 YouTube followers and its AmRen Podcasts had 18,500.
While Spencer and Duke are “bigger names,” YouTube’s ban of Molyneux “is a big, big deal,” New York Times reported Kevin Roose tweeted. Molyneux’s channel had more than 300 million lifetime views “and was the first step down the alt-right rabbit hole for a lot of young men.”
Molyneux — whom the Southern Poverty Law Center has said “amplifies ‘scientific racism,’ eugenics and white supremacism to a massive new audience” — complained on Twitter that he “got no warning, had no strikes on my channel, no chance to back up content, and no chance to notify subscribers. Straight up guillotine out of nowhere.” In a video posted on Twitter, the Canadian white nationalist denied that he fomented violence or hatred. About the YouTube ban, Molyneux said, “It is a blow, don’t get me wrong, it is a huge blow” and likened it to “the inevitable blowbacks that philosophers always receive from the powers that be.” He urged followers “to resist that temptation to go to the extremes, to go to hostility, to go to rage, to go to violence.”
Spencer, meanwhile, tweeted that he will “appeal the suspension; however, this seems to be part of a systemic, coordinated effort.”
YouTube’s deplatforming of the white supremacist channels came as other internet companies Monday took action cracking down on hate speech.
Fifteen years after it first launched, Reddit officially banned hate speech with its updated content policy. The community discussion site removed around 2,000 subreddits for violations of the policy — including pro-Donald Trump forum The_Donald (although Reddit had already “quarantined” the controversial subreddit since June 2019).
In addition, Amazon-owned Twitch suspended Donald Trump’s channel on the live-streaming platform because of “hateful conduct.” In taking the action, Twitch cited the channel’s recent broadcasts of Trump’s 2015 speech calling Mexicans “rapists” and drug dealers and his speech from earlier this month in Tulsa, Okla., in which he conjured up the prospect of “a very tough hombre… breaking into the window of a young woman whose husband is away as a traveling salesman or whatever he may do.”