Some months ago, along with members of the Intelect Group I launched a series of live stream videos here on LinkedIn called ‘Risk Watchdogs’. The purpose of the sessions was to raise awareness of issues such as Cyber Crime, Crypto Currency, Fraud, the Dark Web, Ransomware, Scams, Passwords and more. The content was mostly targeted towards the business community, educational, received good feedback and naturally focused on the risks associated with technology, something I believe to be really important. We are often guilty of using the Internet and Electronic Devices with little thought for our security, privacy and personal data.
All content was uploaded to be curated as an online library onto the YouTube and Vimeo platforms. On the 11th of March without any warning, YouTube permanently terminated the channel stating severe or repeated violations. An extract of the email appears below.
I had never had any communication with YouTube like this previously so naturally assumed this had occurred in error, I made numerous enquiries via email and social media channels. It proved extremely difficult to engage with a human being as the processes for appeal involve automation. If you have ever tried to contact any organisation using this type of system, then you will understand my frustrations.
Finally, a response came back from the YouTube Twitter account, confirming their decision, which was, in their opinion, a valid one. They cited that their ‘community guidelines’ had been infringed, in that, the channel had been party to ‘scams, spams or commercially deceptive material’. I know that not to be the case, so conducted further research. It appears that YouTube deploy machine learning to conduct takedowns. So, if words such as, crypto, dark web, passwords, ransomware, scams etc are picked up too often you run the risk of removal. Now I can fully understand that if we were encouraging that sort of thing, we were not. We were advising people how to defend themselves, something which I assume that YouTube (owned by Google) would be keen on promoting?
I have since been told to submit yet another appeal, via a form. You’ve guessed it, that is an automated process too. To date I have heard nothing. Thankfully we have a back-up of all material on our Vimeo channel which you can find here. I’d appreciate it if you could take a look and let me know if you find anything on there to be offensive.
YouTube is of course free, well in fact it is not because it trades in your personal information, behaviour and habits. The irony of this is, that as a business, I pay to use the Google Suite (G-Suite). As part of the termination, they have removed the YouTube app from my dashboard so I can no longer sign in. The soft sounding ‘community guidelines’ are Google laws, if you breach them then you are ‘guilty until proven innocent’. This unfortunately is the trajectory we are on as a society in terms of our reliance on technology. Big tech companies now control the online landscape, they decide what content you can see, and they decide what they do with your information. You have little if any recourse.
As we move towards online identity management in the guise of ‘vaccine passports’ I have real concerns about what the future holds. But perhaps that is for another post.