Was YouTube heavy-handed in banning MIA’s Born Free video?

article 1272379581593 094FB2E4000005DC 708447 636x300 Was YouTube heavy handed in banning MIAs Born Free video?

The Guardian summises the story perfectly

Released on Monday, removed from YouTube the same day, reinstated with an “age restriction”, then taken down once more (and possibly for good) on Tuesday. The life of MIA’s new video seems destined to be a nasty, brutish and short one.

MIA’s controversial 9 minute video for ‘Born Free’ is achieving the desired publicity generated from the dubious honour of having your work “Banned on YouTube”.

But has the world’s largest video site been heavy handed in their swift removal of the film?

Parent company Google is under increasing pressure to support online free speech while also  fighting convictions in Italy on their failure to remove offensive content fast enough. But many commentators have noted the film, which is trying to make overt political observations, is no worse than other content on the site and by pulling the video they have only increased the chances of it widely circulating on the web.

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18 Responses to Was YouTube heavy-handed in banning MIA’s Born Free video?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Definitely violent and needs a warning or age restriction but doesn’t deserve to be taken down based on the content.

    It is well made and has a certain amount of wit to it and is a worthy piece of filmmaking and political commentary.

    Would you show it on a Saturday morning music video programme for everyone to see? No. So I can understand why YouTube has had problems with it.

    The amount of complains and potential mis-use and mash-ups that could come out of it could really hurt them business/advertising wise as well as upset their user base and stir up the media.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think it’s an important observation that mainstream media have clearer guidelines on what they can & can’t show -Darika

  2. OptimaX says:

    It is actually because I follow Tempero’s Twitter that this video got to my attention. It was easy to find (I just saw it on Vimeo). No matter what I think of the video itself, YouTubes decision to take this video down is probably also the biggest advertisement they can give it, and at the same time puts youtube itself in a bad daylight by doing so.

    I am really enjoying to see how such a big name as YouTube (Google) is struggling between the choice of reputation and promotion. It proves that no one really knows exactly when and how many people are going to be offended by such content while others will appreciate the lack of censorship.

    Censorship is like religion. Either you believe in it, or you don’t.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    A friend just pointed me to an article in Wired called “YouTube Didn’t Delete M.I.A. Video” (http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/04/youtube-didnt-delete-mia-video/) – interesting that if enough users complain about a video that’s trending on YouTube it gets buried from search results.

    I agree with OptimaX – censorship is one of those things that’s almost impossible to get right. You can’t please all of the people all the time. Here in the Tempero office, I’d like to think we’re pretty broadminded so whilst we all agree it shouldn’t be removed from YouTube, we’re not representative of YouTube’s broad user demographic – I wonder if there are any blogs/articles calling for the removal of this video that go into more detail that “killing ginger people! Graphic violence!” that would give us more insight into the other side of the argument.

    A friend just told me that the bit he “liked” least in the video was actually the sexual scenes at the beginning – it shows we all find different things unsavoury to different degrees.

  5. Pingback: Tweets that mention Was YouTube heavy-handed in banning MIA’s Born Free video? | Tempero -- Topsy.com

  6. Tom W says:

    I guess it’s a question of whether

  7. Tom W says:

    Hi all, really interesting points.

    I’m not saying I agree with the decision to remove the video, but I’m not sure it’s as simple as putting a warning on content of this nature.

    Maybe it’s because I work with children’s websites but expecting kids to pay attention to warnings on media seems to me to be the equivalent of putting a big red button on the table with ‘DO NOT PUSH’ on it and walking out. I don’t think saying ‘we can put a warning on it’ is adequate to ensure kids won’t see it.

    That being so, it becomes a question of whether we think it’s ok for kids see this kind of content. Not because of Daily Mail style cartoonish fears, but because it might not be fair to ask an 11 year old to confront this kind of material. I think we can all agree it’s not going to turn them into a serial killer, but it can disturb, scare or traumatise them. Although liberal media seem to agree that there are no ill effects, from what I have read there is no scientific consensus as the evidence isn’t clear.

    If you do arrive at the decision that it’s not a good idea for 11 year olds to be watching 18 rated content it comes down to whether you believe it’s Youtube’s responsibility to prevent them seeing it, the parents to police internet use (if that’s even possible in a world of smart phones and gaming consoles) or you take the view that you can’t stop the kids seeing it, so why bother?

    All questions I’m not sure I have the answer to, but warrant discussion I think.

    I wonder what the reaction would be if the video’s subject was sexual abuse instead of genocide and featured a similar level of graphic sexual content instead of violence. Would it generate the same criticism at its removal?

    Just food for thought and I should point out that I’m in no way in favour of censorship of anything an adult happens to want to watch. It’s just the question of ensuring how you ensure only adults can see it that I’m thinking about.

    Tom.

  8. brettsnelgrove says:

    Definitely violent and needs a warning or age restriction but doesn't deserve to be taken down based on the content.

    It is well made and has a certain amount of wit to it and is a worthy piece of filmmaking and political commentary.

    Would you show it on a Saturday morning music video programme for everyone to see? No. So I can understand why YouTube has had problems with it.

    The amount of complains and potential mis-use and mash-ups that could come out of it could really hurt them business/advertising wise as well as upset their user base and stir up the media.

  9. temperouk says:

    I think it's an important observation that mainstream media have clearer guidelines on what they can & can't show -Darika

  10. Anonymous says:

    I’m surprised YouTube caught it so fast. However, it’s telling that other violent and sexual imagery still find a home on YouTube, but if you throw in a political message, it has to be pulled down? http://bit.ly/dyTC6T I argue that we’ve been desensitized to a lot of graphic images, but MIA’s is a little different because it’s not to entertain us for 10 minutes. It’s intended to follow you for days after you watch it.

  11. OptimaX says:

    It is actually because I follow Tempero's Twitter that this video got to my attention. It was easy to find (I just saw it on Vimeo). No matter what I think of the video itself, YouTubes decision to take this video down is probably also the biggest advertisement they can give it, and at the same time puts youtube itself in a bad daylight by doing so.

    I am really enjoying to see how such a big name as YouTube (Google) is struggling between the choice of reputation and promotion. It proves that no one really knows exactly when and how many people are going to be offended by such content while others will appreciate the lack of censorship.

    Censorship is like religion. Either you believe in it, or you don't.

  12. TheresaSantos says:

    A friend just pointed me to an article in Wired called “YouTube Didn't Delete M.I.A. Video” (http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/04/youtube-…) – interesting that if enough users complain about a video that's trending on YouTube it gets buried from search results.

    I agree with OptimaX – censorship is one of those things that's almost impossible to get right. You can't please all of the people all the time. Here in the Tempero office, I'd like to think we're pretty broadminded so whilst we all agree it shouldn't be removed from YouTube, we're not representative of YouTube's broad user demographic – I wonder if there are any blogs/articles calling for the removal of this video that go into more detail that “killing ginger people! Graphic violence!” that would give us more insight into the other side of the argument.

    A friend just told me that the bit he “liked” least in the video was actually the sexual scenes at the beginning – it shows we all find different things unsavoury to different degrees.

  13. temperouk says:

    So Google BURIES controversial content rather than removing it? Wow.

  14. Tom W says:

    Hi all, really interesting points.

    I'm not saying I agree with the decision to remove the video, but I'm not sure it's as simple as putting a warning on content of this nature.

    Maybe it’s because I work with children's websites but expecting kids to pay attention to warnings on media seems to me to be the equivalent of putting a big red button on the table with ‘DO NOT PUSH’ on it and walking out. I don’t think saying ‘we can put a warning on it’ is adequate to ensure kids won’t see it.

    That being so, it becomes a question of whether we think it’s ok for kids see this kind of content. Not because of Daily Mail style cartoonish fears, but because it might not be fair to ask an 11 year old to confront this kind of material. I think we can all agree it’s not going to turn them into a serial killer, but it can disturb, scare or traumatise them. Although liberal media seem to agree that there are no ill effects, from what I have read there is no scientific consensus as the evidence isn’t clear.

    If you do arrive at the decision that it’s not a good idea for 11 year olds to be watching 18 rated content it comes down to whether you believe it’s Youtube’s responsibility to prevent them seeing it, the parents to police internet use (if that’s even possible in a world of smart phones and gaming consoles) or you take the view that you can’t stop the kids seeing it, so why bother?

    All questions I’m not sure I have the answer to, but warrant discussion I think.

    I wonder what the reaction would be if the video's subject was sexual abuse instead of genocide and featured a similar level of graphic sexual content instead of violence. Would it generate the same criticism at its removal?

    Just food for thought and I should point out that I’m in no way in favour of censorship of anything an adult happens to want to watch. It’s just the question of ensuring how you ensure only adults can see it that I'm thinking about.

    Tom.

  15. andykaren says:

    I'm surprised YouTube caught it so fast. However, it's telling that other violent and sexual imagery still find a home on YouTube, but if you throw in a political message, it has to be pulled down? http://bit.ly/dyTC6T I argue that we've been desensitized to a lot of graphic images, but MIA's is a little different because it's not to entertain us for 10 minutes. It's intended to follow you for days after you watch it.

  16. Tia Fisher says:

    Perhaps if YouTube broadcast their safety control setting more widely, then families would become aware that there are filters on the site, which wold block this kind of material? http://youtube-global.blogspot.com/2010/02/safe…