YouTube’s Content Warning

YouTube still makes it harder to see yourself in the mirror of media.

By now you’ve probably heard about how YouTube is marking videos as restricted, if you’ve got that enabled. While catching up on the list of commercials in my inbox, I watched the 2016 Absolut video about Darla, a part of their #AbsolutNights campaign.

She Hadn’t Changed. I Had.

In it, a young man finds his friend Dave at a music festival. Only … “Only it wasn’t the Dave I remembered—he told me his name was Darla now.” The narrator attempts to come up with an excuse to leave, but Darla grabs his hand and takes him on a night he’ll never forget. They went backstage, met everyone, did everything, and together they watched the sun come up and talked.

We just talked and she told me she always felt this way. I just listened and somehow I understood. She was my friend. The same person. The same heart. She hadn’t changed. I had.

I cried.

I went to download the video to host here and saw this:

Content Warning: This video may be inappropriate for some users.

Content Warning

Why would this be blocked, I wondered. Was it the drinking? It couldn’t be. I’ve seen worse out there, unblocked, and they had barely one drink. Was it the subject matter? Was it the gay?

It turned out to be none of that.

When I went to Absolut’s page, I saw a surprising message.

This channel contains content that may be inappropriate for some users, as determined by the YouTube account owner.

Absolut flagged their own account. Because of the alcohol.

Self Censorship

Today, it’s harder than normal to tell if content is properly or improperly restricted. Since I don’t have the Google restrictions on, it should be obvious if an account or a video was voluntarily flagged or not. YouTube is still muddling their way through trying to ‘protecting’ people without prejudice.

It’s an impossible task, though. Between letting the community flag videos on their own (about as useful as the comments sections I feel), and their magical algorithms, they still have failed. They’re still making the world a little harder for us to see ourselves in it.

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