You probably know that I record a weekly podcast on privacy, security, civil rights and other policy issues. You might also know that I record each episode live on Twitch and later upload it to my YouTube channel. Today, YouTube informed me that one of my videos had been blocked for a TOS violation for the first time.
They have removed the video for episode 74 of The Private Citizen because it allegedly contains “medical misinformation” with regards to COVID-19. This is a ludicrous claim and obviously bogus – that should be clear to anyone who listens to the episode (which is of course still available in podcast form). It was probably an automatic decision and YouTube is not providing any information on why they think I violated their TOS at all.
Now, it happens that I am not just some random YouTuber. I am a journalist and this video was made with my usual journalistic standards (see my previous work and the ethical guidelines for journalists in the German press codex , which I follow to the letter to the best of my abilities). As such I regard this kind of unsubstantiated claim as a grave insult to my work ethics. And I will fight this tooth and nail – my professional reputation is on the line here.
I have disputed the claim and contacted Google’s press office to provide me with information on why they think I violated their TOS, i.e. detailed justification as to where exactly my video contradicts expert guidance from the WHO and/or RKI. I will also take up this matter with my trade union, the DJV, as I consider this kind of behaviour by YouTube to be a threat to press freedom, especially of independent freelance journalists, here in Germany. I will keep you informed about Google’s response and my further steps in the matter.
Funnily enough, I pretty much predicted that something like this might happen on the podcast only last week when talking about YouTube, upload filters, journalism and free speech: The Private Citizen 73: A Great Time to Be a Podcaster.