Online platforms have been censoring conservative videos for years under the claim that they may be “inappropriate,” “provocative,” or dangerous to the public in some way, shape, or form. Prager U and Steven Crowder have been so censored into oblivion that everything but videos from their channel will come up when searched for on YouTube.
It was all in the name of safety, according to those who enacted the censorship. They said that videos like these tend to give birth to members of the alt-right.
Well, they can stop now, as Penn State’s Political Science Department has found that videos from people like Crowder and Prager U tend to lower people’s penchant for radicalization than it does inflame it.
The study, titled “A Supply and Demand Framework for YouTube Politics,” shows that the work of conservative video makers such as Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro, or libertarian-ish podcasters like Joe Rogan, actually tend to prevent alt-right radicalization rather than cause it.
Birkbeck University of London’s Eric Kaufman showed in a tweet the curbing effect visually.
Contrary to the 'gateway drug' narrative, new study shows the Intellectual Dark Web (i.e. @jordanbpeterson @prageru @joerogan @benshapiro @RubinReport ) is de-radicalizing potential Alt-Right viewers https://t.co/fyYQfGT8xJ pic.twitter.com/NiWh3iXnMw
— Eric Kaufmann (@epkaufm) October 24, 2019
The study noted that while conservative content and alt-right content rose steeply, only conservative content rose in viewership while alt-right viewership declined:
Between 2013 and 2016, all segments of the AIN, including the Alt-Lite and Alt-Right, rose in viewership. However, since the middle of 2017, both of these ideological segments of the AIN have seen a steep decline in viewership. By contrast, Conservative and Liberal content creators who have much more in common with mainstream discourse than other segments of the AIN have either continued to grow or plateaued in viewership. These patterns are inconsistent with radicalization happening at a major scale; indeed, from these data alone, de-radicalization seems a more plausible baseline hypothesis. This does not rule out the possibility that some people are making the ideological journey from Liberals to Skeptics to the far-right, but this is certainly not the dominant trend.
This shouldn’t be any surprise to those who actually watch the likes of Crowder or Shapiro. Both are often accused of spouting alt-right propaganda, yet both — alongside the likes of Prager U, Jordan Peterson, and more — oftentimes denounce the alt-right and support ideas and philosophies that run contrary to the alt-right.
But I believe the reason for this censorship is actually two things.
For one, they truly believe conservatives are just a hair’s breadth away from Nazism. Those who pull the platform’s strings in California truly believe that the philosophies of conservatives and libertarians are the way to the fascism of the ’30s and ’40s and that somehow, people are seduced by it because of the racist, sexist, homophobic, bigoted hate that every person secretly has in their heart.
“Today it is often 1 or 2 steps to Nazis,” reads a leaked Google email among staff members. “If we understand that Prager U, Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, et al are Nazis using the dog whistles you mention in step 1. I can receive these communications regardless of the content of what I’m looking at, and I have recorded thousands of internet users sharing the same experience.”
“I don’t think correctly identifying far-right content is beyond our capabilities,” it continues. “But if it is, why not go with Meredith’s suggestion of disabling the suggestion feature?”
It’s why they can throw Prager U videos into the same category as “porn” and “violence” without blinking an eye. It’s why they can unabashedly make sure that you have to dig to find a Steven Crowder video.
But secondly, conservative content scratches no back in the corporate world, and here is where you find a lot of the reason YouTube is censoring conservatives.
People come to watch YouTube by the millions every day and a lot of that is to watch conservative/libertarian news content. It’s one of the few places people can see it because the mainstream news networks are more or less left-leaning.
This means a lot of people are turning away from flipping on the television or visiting mainstream websites that would give them the news. They would much rather watch Shapiro or Rogan and get their news there. Hell, the number one YouTuber in the world, PewDiePie, gets millions of more viewers to his news segments than many of the mainstream platforms combined.
Long story short, conservative YouTubers aren’t good for business. It’s why you’ve seen a deranking of videos from all over the political spectrum by amateur users and a promotion of everything corporate, like ABC, Fox News, MSNBC, and Bloomberg.
Conservative news is dangerous for narrative and money reasons and the revelation that it actually has a positive effect on people, probably won’t change the minds of anyone in Silicon Valley. In fact, the idea that it’s having a positive effect may scare them even more.