Blocking Crypto Content: Are Youtube and Twitter Afraid of Decentralization?

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YouTube continues to remove crypto content.  In March, the platform banned the Ivan on Tech and the Moon channels, in April - the acco...

YouTube continues to remove crypto content. In March, the platform banned the Ivan on Tech and the Moon channels, in April - the account of the famous crypto analyst Tony Weiss, the Crypto Crow channels, BTC Sessions and a number of others. At the same time, videos of scam projects remain intact on video hosting. According to some reports, the reasons for blocking are a new platform algorithm that blindly blocks everything that seems suspicious. The new algorithm was launched on Twitter, so beloved by the crypto world. The social network began to enter crypto-accounts into a shadow ban. In April, she restricted the accounts of Messari CEO Ryan Selkis, analyst Tony Weiss, crypto media founder The Block Mike Dudas, and several other industry figures. Is there any censorship against crypto users by media giants,

YouTube has been blocking crypto content since the end of last year

At the end of December 2019, the YouTube platform massively blocked dozens of videos with crypto content, including top channels with hundreds of thousands of subscribers: trader Chris Dunn's channel, DataDash, Boxmining, BTCSessions, Ivan On Tech, The Moon, Altcoin Daily, Chico Crypto, The Cryptoverse, Crypto Tips, Crypto Beadles and many  more . The largest channel with blocked videos was owned by DataDash with over 330,000 subscribers.
The reason for blocking YouTube indicated violation of the terms of posting content, the creation of "harmful and dangerous" content and "sale of prohibited goods. At the same time, the channels of a number of scam projects were not blocked.
The crypto community erupted in a wave of angry posts on Twitter and Reddit. A few days later, YouTube restored most of the deleted channels,  explaining  its actions by a mistake and an  update of  the moderation algorithm in early December.
"Hello! We're really sorry about that [channel blocking]! This was a mistake on our part during the review, but now it has been fixed. All videos must be restored and the locks removed. Please let us know if you have any questions, ”wrote YouTube support in response to Alex Saunders' complaint about the removal of 100 videos.
However, the problem of unexpected and unreasonable blocking remains. In March of this year, YouTube removed one video at a time on major Ivan on Tech  and  The Moon channels  Prior to that, Ivan on Tech was also subjected to repeated blocking of video content. The author of the channel, Ivan Liljekvist, a Swedish programmer, teacher and popular speaker at blockchain conferences, said that he would go to other platforms, but after the return of the video, he still remained on video hosting.

YouTube algorithm blocks crypto content again

On March 16, YouTube released a  statement  that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it has reduced the number of moderators checking content for compliance with the video platform's rules. Most of the work to find "harmful content" will be done by machine learning algorithms. Usually, when they find potentially harmful content, reviewers are brought in to review. But until the pandemic ends, automated systems will delete "suspicious" content without human approval.
The algorithms will be strictest for videos that misinform about the coronavirus. YouTube acknowledges that it can accidentally delete videos that do not violate any rights. Neil Mohan, general manager of product development for YouTube,  said that there are already many such cases, and the platform receives many complaints from content creators about the illegal removal of videos. Video hosting tries to minimize such cases.
Channel owners can dispute the blocking of videos, but the platform warns that it will take longer than usual due to the reduced number of moderators.
Several channels about cryptocurrencies have already failed to please the new algorithms:
  • On April 9, the Crypto Crow channel was blocked with 81,000 subscribers.
  • On April 16, YouTube blocked the channel of well-known analyst Tony Weiss, which has over 100,000 subscribers. He had previously encountered problems with specific videos, but the videos were always recognized as compliant with the hosting rules. The blocking of an entire channel came as a surprise to Weiss.
  • On April 17, YouTube blocked the BTC Sessions channel with 33,000 subscribers for "repeated or serious violations" of the basic principles of the platform .
  • The video mentioning the coronavirus was also deleted from the Spanish-language Academia Blockchain channel with 8600 subscribers.
  • YouTube also stopped live broadcasts of the Blockchain Education Network project dedicated to the blockchain.
Users again accused the platform of continuing the campaign against the crypto world. However, these accusations seem unfounded. Most likely, crypto channels simply fell under the hot hand.
Thus, the BTC Sessions and Tony Weiss channels were unblocked  within 24 hours after the blocking, with a clarification from YouTube that the authors did not violate the rules of the service. Crypto Crow was  back  online three days later. At the same time, the popular crypto-YouTuber Lark Davis, also known as The Crypto Lark,  told  Cointelegraph that 11 videos were deleted on his channel in April, but restored after a few hours.
Google has not disclosed the details of its algorithms. Therefore, it is impossible to determine what exactly they do not like in the video. Maybe it's not about blockchain. But if the algorithm believes that the topic of cryptocurrencies is related to misinformation about the coronavirus, then it looks closely at such videos.
Lea Thompson, author of the Girl Gone Crypto channel, in the comments to Cointelegraph noted the existence of rumors that YouTube is blocking crypto content due to referral links. Allegedly, when placing the same referral links in each video description, the platform marks the video as spam. However, there is no confirmation of this, and so far this is just an attempt to explain the choice of algorithms.

Ripple accuses YouTube of supporting scammers

YouTube's algorithms are flawed. They are able to "see" disinformation about the coronavirus in the blockchain story, but they can miss the videos of outright scammers. So, on April 21, Ripple Labs and its CEO Brad Garlinghouse  filed a  lawsuit against YouTube. They accuse the video platform of damaging the company's reputation and brand.
Plaintiffs believe that YouTube is not taking any action against scammers spreading videos of fake giveaways of millions of XRPs on behalf of Ripple since November last year. Apparently, scammers buy channels with a large number of subscribers, and then remove content from them by uploading their own videos. Ripple even hired a dedicated anti-scam firm because YouTube has barely responded to complaints.
The plaintiffs accuse the video hosting site of knowingly making a profit by selling paid ads to scammers, despite the possibility of stopping them. In total, the company filed 49 complaints on YouTube about such videos and channels and 305 complaints about the channels of the fake Garlinghouse. But the hosting was idle.
The platform has not yet responded to the allegations. However, a week after the lawsuit was filed, Ripple CTO David Schwartz's YouTube channel was  blocked.

Twitter bans representatives of the crypto industry

Twitter is the main source of information in the crypto world. Developers, top managers and CEOs of crypto platforms, investors and traders - all have their own account. Social media plays a huge role in the development of the industry. A few tweets can change the price of a coin and the mood of the entire market.
Moreover, the head of the company, Jack Dorsey, is an ardent supporter of cryptocurrencies. He  invests  in crypto projects, speaks at bitcoin conferences and  considers  BTC the "natural currency of the Internet." He is even going to launch a decentralized version of Twitter, in which users of different platforms will be able to communicate with each other directly.
However, Twitter has also been periodically accused of bias against crypto projects.
Recall that back in 2018, users accused Twitter of using the so-called shadow ban, in which accounts are not found through search, or posts are not visible in the users' feed. Then the social network  denied that it deliberately makes someone's content less accessible, for example, only on a direct link.
In December 2019, Twitter  updated the  terms of the user agreement. The social network now reserves more rights to regulate content and block users. From now on, it can " restrict the distribution or visibility of any content on the service ", as well as " suspend or terminate accounts ." Twitter believes that in this way the company follows "a zero-tolerance approach to manipulation of the platform and any attempts to abuse the service ." In mid-March, Twitter also separately  emphasized that it would block and ban users who spread false information about the coronavirus.
However, in fact, the social network has blocked accounts for fake news about COVID-19 and earlier. So, at the end of January this year, the page of the financial news site Zero Hedge, which covers, among other things, the crypto industry, was forever  banned  on Twitter after an article about the alleged connection of a Chinese scientist with the outbreak of coronavirus. The account had 670,000 subscribers.
Twitter also deleted several tweets from well-known profiles of people far from the crypto industry for fakes about the coronavirus: former Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke (@SheriffClarke),  who called to  ignore US quarantine, actress Alice Milano, who  published  misinformation about protecting against virus infection. Deletion of tweets reached the representatives of the crypto world. In March, Twitter deleted the posts of the controversial John McAfee, who  said COVID-19 was not dangerous for African Americans, as it was a "Chinese virus."
Ryan Selkis, founder of analytics firm Messari, said in late March  that his  personal  and  business   Twitter accounts had been blocked and restricted in visibility. The reason is the spread of "coronavirus fakes". The company created a special page to track the number of cases, and Selkis shared news about COVID-19 with his subscribers for several months. After the ban, he noticed that the coverage of his posts was significantly reduced - they could only be seen by followers. Selkis and Messari's accounts are now publicly available.
Selkis isn't the only crypto industry to see Twitter "censorship". Founder of cryptocurrency news outlet The Block Mike Dudas complained that at the end of April his tweets were getting less reach than usual. Several other users pointed out a similar problem in the comments. Some even switched  to LinkedIn because of this  .
“Has anyone else noticed problems with your Twitter account in the past 48 hours? I have notifications from all social networks, but any tweets I post get far less reach than usual, ”wrote ethhub.io co-founder and co-host of Into The Ether podcast Anthony Sassano.
Twitter representatives have not yet commented on the situation.
The social network, like most major technology platforms, regularly updates its monitoring algorithm. Perhaps the new update is biased towards representatives of the crypto industry. Or people just follow the market less and more - the news about the pandemic and crisis. In any case, it is obvious that Twitter's actions do not intend to censor the crypto industry - everyone can get under the shadow ban.
It is alarming that a  conflict is brewing in the management of the company  between Jack Dorsey and the head of the New York hedge fund Elliott Management Paul Singer, which could lead to the removal of Dorsey from his post. After that, the position of the social network towards the crypto industry may change, but now Twitter, despite several cases of the ban, is still tolerant of cryptocurrencies.

Are Google and Twitter Afraid of Decentralization?

Platforms like YouTube and Twitter are forced to moderate content, facing pressure from governments, advertisers and organizations.
The crypto censorship of Google, which owns YouTube, extends far beyond the video hosting platform: in the past, the company has  banned  advertising of digital assets, and has also  removed the  MetaMask crypto wallet app from Google Play.
At times, it seems that Google is wary of decentralized solutions. After all, they go directly against the company's centralized business model - providing the basic infrastructure for most of the Internet. Google has largely shaped the way the Internet works today. He is not interested in its decentralized redistribution. In addition, the company is too bound by obligations to numerous regulators.
Many representatives of the crypto community are  calling for a  boycott of YouTube and Twitter, and the use and development of decentralized analogs of their and other global platforms. For example, there are already decentralized video hosting sites - Antube, DTube, Dlive, Hive, LBRY, 3Speak, as well as Twitter analogues - Peepeth, Diaspora, Sapien, Sola. While their main problem is the lack of bandwidth, they simply cannot withstand the massive influx of users. But this is fixable.
“Maybe it's time for the crypto community to create their own social media platform that is resistant to blockchain censorship. Yes, you will have to face a lot of problems: spam, fraud, trolls, rewarding content creators, copyright, token economy, governance, sustainability, confidentiality ... But it seems like the time is right for that! "- wrote the head of Binance Changpeng Zhao ...

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