Technology

How YouTube rules are being used to silence human rights activists


For more than a week now, a YouTube corner frequented by Kazakh defectors and close human rights monitors in Xinjiang has only been available sporadically.

On June 15, a YouTube channel From “Atajurt Kazakhstan Human Rights” went dark, replacing his feed of videos with a vague statement that the channel was “terminated for violating YouTube Community Guidelines”. A few days later, the canal was brought back without public explanation. Then, several days later, 12 of the channel’s first videos disappeared from its public feed.

Tagourt collects and publishes video testimonies from family members of people imprisoned in China’s concentration camps in Xinjiang. To ensure the credibility of these video statements, each public testimony shows proof of the identity of the person testifying and their detained relatives. It also confirms the integrity of the organization, says Serikjan Bilash, a prominent Kazakh activist and owner of the channel.

Tagourt has collected thousands of video testimonies from family members of Turkish Muslims who have disappeared in Xinjiang. Witnesses show their identity to prove that they are real people.

Accuracy is especially important not only because of the lack of information from Xinjiang, but also because testimonies often face criticism from CCP supporters — who, Bilash says, are looking for any excuse to deny what the UN has contacted.gross violations of human rightsIn the province.

After being published by Atajurt, the information contained in the videos is used by other organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Xinjiang Victims Database, which documents where arrests took place, the communities most affected, and the individuals who disappeared. A representative of the Xinjiang Victims Database told MIT Technology Review that their project was linked to the Atageort videos “thousands of times.”

For years, these videos – dating back to 2018 – weren’t a problem, at least not from a YouTube perspective. That changed last week.

“Full review”

“we have strict policies that prohibits harassment on YouTube, including defamation,” a YouTube representative told the MIT Technology Review Friday, adding later, “We welcome responsible efforts to document important human rights issues around the world.” We also have Policy that do not allow channels to publish Personally Identifiable Information in order to prevent harassment.”

Some videos, like this one, have been forcibly taken into privacy by YouTube after being reported as violating the “Violent Criminal Organizations” policy.

They were most likely referring to Tagourt’s display of identity documents, which she uses to confirm the authenticity of people’s testimonies.

However, shortly after the MIT Technology Review sent YouTube a list of questions about the June 15 takedown, and policies for moderating content more broadly, YouTube reversed its position. “After a thorough review of the context of the video,” a company representative wrote in an email, the channel “returned” with a warning. “We… are working closely with this organization so that they can remove personally identifiable information from their videos to return them to their previous status.”



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