Google recently vowed to remove advertising from content that they or advertisers find ‘hateful’. They further elaborate that hateful content is anything that attacks a person or group ‘based on gender, religion, race or similar categories.’ The issue with Google’s censorship, along with other major social media companies such as Facebook, is that the concept of ‘hateful’ is open to subjective opinion. There are some situations in which ‘hateful content’ is easy to label, such as a YouTube video calling for the extermination of a race. However, in some cases ‘hateful content’ is nothing more than something advertisers disagree with politically or socially.
For example, If one group has ‘negative’ things to say about another group and that doesn’t go along with Googles belief system or Facebooks belief system, who’s to say they won’t delete the content as ‘hate speech?’ How can we know that Google and Facebook, companies which are known to push political ideologies, won’t abuse their own system? Who’s there to ‘balance and check’ Google and Facebook?
The whole idea of ‘curtailing to advertisers’ and removing revenue streams from people or groups that they don’t align with is nothing short of economic warfare. Once you remove a ‘dissenters’ chance to make money through their content and efforts — you effectively silence them. I think the argument that advertisers make of content ‘not sharing our brand values’ is mostly a ruse. No one thinks that a Google advertiser that pops up on a video about ‘cats licking their a$$holes’ necessarily support ‘cats licking their A$$holes.’ It’s just an excuse for specific companies and ad networks to push political and social ideologies that end up benefiting them in the long run. It’s not that crazy, we’ve seen this sort of thing a million times before.
The silver lining of this is that it’s going to cause a fracture in power with major ad companies like Google and Facebook. Once enough accounts get banned or have their revenue stripped — they will eventually go elsewhere to create content and take their audience with them. A perfect example of this exodus is the creation of the social network Gab.ai. Gab is a haven for content creators that were banned from networks such as YouTube or Twitter.
Content creators also live under the constant threat of losing all their hard work. Creators have seen their channels banned after years of accruing subscribers and lose thousand of dollars of income overnight. One popular example is the channel ‘Bearing’ which had over 300,000 subscribers when it was banned for frivolous copyright claims. The channel was later reinstated but shows how quickly hard work by content creators can be erased overnight. Beyond the threat of ‘banning,’ content creators will find other ways to make revenue by cutting out advertisers completely. Why bother with advertisers when your audience can pay you directly for your creations? At least that way you can talk about whatever you want without fear of reprisal. Companies like Patreon allow content creators to free themselves from the socio-political bindings of advertisers by collecting donations from their audience.
We can already see the shift happening with many content creators to ‘freer’ pastures. Both content creators and their audiences are getting tired of being told what they can listen to or watch by billion dollar megalith corporations such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Besides, who’s to say Google won’t consider this article ‘hate speech?’ I mean, after all, I am criticizing their beliefs as an organization.