I am not really someone who engages himself in controversial discussions, debates, and internet battles, and I don’t think I’ll ever be. But this has never meant that I do not have an opinion about issues that are being discussed daily in public and on the internet.
A while back, I stumbled upon a Youtube video, an interview with someone whose beliefs and ideology about a subject was the opposite of the interviewer. The whole theme of the video was to attack the person in the interview. I listened to it thoroughly, with no bias toward the person being attacked. I rarely post Youtube comments, but this time it felt like I should give my opinion about the content and the issue that was being discussed.
When I scrolled down to the comments section, I found out the commenting was disabled. It felt different, up until then I used to think the video owners have the right to disable the comments on their videos, for various reasons. Maybe they did not want to provide a platform for visitors to create a fight, maybe they did not want to be called things, or they did not want to receive hate speech.
By looking at it on a deeper level, it seemed like the host and the uploader simply did not want any discussion against them, it was one-sided content, and the visitors were not welcome to speak their minds or give any criticism. The decision for disabling the comments was made to ensure people can’t influence others’ opinions by maybe pointing out something, or unpacking a different perspective, and I felt extremely oppressed.
Youtube as a publishing platform, allows the creators to deliver their views and ideologies to a large number of people, even better, a targetted group of people who could be vulnerable or interested in such topics, considering such capability, you can easily impose yourself to others with no efforts, Youtube recommendation algorithms will do all of the rest for you.
We’re not talking about something personal, like Instagram, we’re talking about distributing content in a manner that can reach a large number of people, and possibly affect their beliefs. Youtube and other platforms might have content moderations in place, to prevent certain stuff to be published to the world, but that can never and should never be applied to opinions and thoughts.
The idea of Free Speech is to be able to express one’s beliefs without any limitation, preferably within the boundaries of respect.
To complete this blog note, my final views are that Disabling Youtube comments is an oppression of Free Speech, if you can’t accept what people might say differently about what you believe, then you should not be given the opportunity and the platform to discuss your ideas, your beliefs, and opinions. Thus that the ability to disable comments on videos (as much as it sounds like basic functionality), is a tool to enable oppression. I think this option should not exist at all.
Please let me know what you think on this topic, I would love to know more views on this matter.
Update: Please check my new post about Kament, a browser extension that is aimed at unchaining Youtube!