More on YouTube User-Generated Content

8 Oct ’06

One of the obvious answers to my complaint of earlier this week about the disappointing absence of context to the Canadian media’s reporting of the war in Afghanistan is that the web is gradually allowing citizen reporting to displace, or at least augment, the traditional role of journalists. But I certainly didn’t have in mind the development reported by the NYT today – YouTube is apparently hosting videos showing insurgent attacks against American troops in Iraq:

Many of the videos, showing sniper attacks against Americans and roadside bombs exploding under American military vehicles, have been posted not by insurgents or their official supporters but apparently by Internet users in the United States and other countries, who have passed along videos found elsewhere.

Their availability has also produced some backlash. In recent weeks, YouTube has removed dozens of the videos from its archives and suspended the accounts of some users who have posted them, a reaction, it said, to complaints from other users.

More than four dozen videos of combat in Iraq viewed by The New York Times have been removed in recent days, many after The Times began inquiries.

There’s been considerable controversy lately over the value of user-generated content on YouTube – I really don’t know what to make of this example.

Update : More from the NYT on YouTube censorship, with the suggestion that content is being taken down to pretty YouTube up for the potential acquirors that – er – Hurley doesn’t want to sell to. The article refers to a specific video – hosted by Michelle Malkin – that YouTube has removed for violating its terms of service (it says). Nonsense – there’s nothing in the clip that violates the TOS, as far as I can tell – YouTube either made a mistake or is simply trying to avoid controversy for business reasons. Malkin defends her video here.

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