Down the Tube: YouTube Quietly Launches New Censorship Scheme Designed to Limit Access to Videos
YouTube has been accused of censorship after introducing a controversial new policy designed to reduce the audience for videos deemed to be "inappropriate or offensive to some audiences".
The Google-owned video site is now putting videos into a "limited state" if they are deemed controversial enough to be considered objectionable, but not hateful, pornographic or violent enough to be banned altogether.
This policy has come into force in the past week, prompting anger among members of the YouTube community.
The Sun Online understands Google and YouTube insiders refer to the tactic as "tougher treatment".
One prominent video-maker slammed the new scheme whilst WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange described the measures as "economic censorship".
However, YouTube sees it as a way of maintaining freedom of speech and allowing discussion of controversial issues without resorting to the wholesale banning of videos.
Videos which are put into a limited state cannot be embedded on other websites.
They also cannot be easily published on social media using the usual share buttons and other users cannot comment on them.
Crucially, the person who made the video will no longer receive any payment.
Earlier this week, Julian Assange wrote: "'Controversial' but contract-legal videos [which break YouTube's terms and conditions] cannot be liked, embedded or earn [money from advertising revenue].
"What's interesting about the new method deployed is that it is a clear attempt at social engineering. It isn't just turning off the ads.
"It's turning off the comments, embeds, etc too.
"Everything possible to strangle the reach without deleting it."
Criticism of YouTube's policies is most acute among people on the right of the political spectrum, who fear that Silicon Valley is dominated by the left and determined to silence opposing voices - a claim denied by tech giants like Facebook and Google.
The "tougher treatment" system is in its early stages and is likely to provoke more controversy in the coming months, particularly in an era where political debate online is highly polarised and extremely passionate.
Right-wingers on the internet believe Silicon Valley is dead set on censoring conservative websites and channels, taking its cue from over-sensitive members of Generation Snowflake who are known for taking offence too easily.
At the same time, left-wingers think the right is spreading hate and must be silenced for the good of society.
The "culture war" between these two sides shows no signs of abating - and YouTube is the frontline in this increasingly vicious battle of ideas.