YouTube has once again decided to shut down a channel and shut up a reporter that was using the platform – without providing a clear reason behind the decision.
This time, it was the turn of Gemma O’Doherty, an Irish journalist, to see her channel banned last week over content that was apparently flagged for “hate speech.”
But O’Doherty, whose bio on Twitter describes her as Irish patriot, multi-award-winning investigative journalist and founder of Anti-Corruption Ireland, tweeted that she was yet to hear the actual reason for the banning of her channel.
Referring to YouTube and its owner, Google, she also said:
One week on, @Google @YouTube have yet to provide me with a reason for banning my channel. They’ve been unable to provide evidence of hate speech because there wasn’t any. If you’d like to see my channel restored and free speech upheld, please join us at Barrow St from 2pm today
— Gemma O'Doherty (@gemmaod1) July 23, 2019
“They’ve been unable to provide evidence of hate speech because there wasn’t any. If you’d like to see my channel restored and free speech upheld, please join us at Barrow St from 2pm today.”
The last reference concerned O’Doherty’s ongoing protest in front of Google’s HQ in Dublin.
The Irish press, meanwhile, reports about the case in the broader context of Google’s actual role in society today, and its right or lack thereof to restrict and censor speech.
Thus, the Irish Times said in an opinion piece that Google, as a private company, taking on the role of the arbiter of public speech “raises serious questions.”
The newspaper argues that Google and other tech giants today represents the infrastructure for the expression of the entire world. The sheer size and influence of these titans mean they cannot hide behind saying they are simply enforcing their own rules as they see fit, and with no accountability.
Their reach and the billions of people using them has given the privately-owned tech giants a public role, the article continues. And that means their “private” censorship affects the public sphere.
“Public speech is now effectively regulated by the diktats of a handful of self-appointed corporate watchdogs. It would be extremely naÃ¯ve to believe that their gatekeeping role will not be undermined by their commercial interest in staying on the right side of public opinion and avoiding any backlash among their customer base,” the Irish Times writes, and argues in favor of “decentralizing content-moderating functions and separating them from commercial incentives” in order to protect free speech.
Another Irish newspaper, the Irish Mirror, writes that a Google spokesperson accused O’Doherty of hate speech and harassment related to her criticism of ethnic minorities in her country.
O’Doherty stood in the EU elections and received 10,000 votes in Dublin, the report noted. The investigative journalist was previously unfairly sacked by the Irish Independent over her reporting about police corruption.
The publication later apologized to O’Doherty, settling a defamation suit she had filed against them.
image source: @gemmaod1 on Twitter