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YouTube removes raw footage of Capitol riot by independent journalist, demonetizes channel

YouTube has removed raw Jan. 6 footage from an independent journalist, one of the country's leading chroniclers of political demonstrations, who documented the Capitol Hill riot. Then the platform demonetized his entire channel because of his alleged "harmful content."

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UPDATE: The YouTube channels in question have since been re-monetized by the platform.

YouTube has removed raw Jan. 6 footage from an independent journalist, one of the country's leading chroniclers of political demonstrations, who documented the Capitol Hill riot. Then the platform demonetized his entire channel because of his alleged "harmful content."

News2Share co-founder Ford Fischer uploaded video from former President Donald Trump's speech and the crowd's reaction before rioters stormed the Capitol building. For adversaries on the political left, this correlation that implies causation signals the key moment in the impeachment complaint against Trump.

YouTube alleged that Fischer produces "[c]ontent that focuses on controversial issues and that is harmful to viewers." Fischer has implored ways he can fix the ongoing conflict and resolve the disputed issue.

YouTube told Fischer that "content that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches changed the outcome" of the 2020 presidential election is not allowed on the site.

It was unclear if YouTube's algorithm flagged his content by mistake in the first place, but then company the claimed on Twitter that Fischer's video "didn't include countervailing views or sufficient context of the claims made in the footage."

"As videos can be embedded across the web, we only allow this content to remain on the platform if there's appropriate context within the video itself," YouTube tweeted in response. Fischer lambasted the company's "punish first and ask why later" practice.

However, that policy does not seem to apply against corporate news outlets, such as NBCNews and the Telegraph, that have uploaded the president's speech in full without any additional reporting or context.

Aligned with Big Tech's crackdown on conservative content, the Google-owned company's partisan efforts to censor right-wing creators is based on the noble premise that misinformation harms good-faith journalism.

Fischer told Forbes that he was baffled and angry that YouTube can't tell the difference between raw footage meant to document the historical event and conspiracy theorists promoting election disinformation.

"I believe in YouTube's core principles. I hope you still do," Fischer tagged the company's official Twitter account. "Let's solve it together. YouTube is about having a voice. I intend to keep using mine."

Fischer accused of YouTube of "not only betraying its content creators and viewers by making choices to demonetize and delete content of independent content creators," but the platform is "betraying their shareholders."

"YouTube will lose money if they continue down this path," Fischer advised.

On Twitter, Fischer maintained that his video, which showed the crowd chanting "fight for Trump" before the attack, is crucial for the public to see as Trump will stand trial in the Senate over whether he incited the riot.

Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy fellow Jay Ulfelder wrote in an email to YouTube that Fischer's videos also "serve as crucial archival material for future scholars looking to get a better sense of what happened than our data or other news sources can provide."

The lead scholar went on to "attest the value" of Fischer's footage to nonpartisan research on protest activity in the United States, pointing to his lab's multi-year, multi-university Crowd Counting Consortium that creates related open-source data for scholars and journalists.

Fischer's material is "an invaluable resource" for the NonViolent Action Lab program director's work and provides unrivaled "on-the-scene detail," Ulfelder argued, citing the accuracy of his content that helps to "characterize the nature of the event" such as the numbers of participants, the rationale behind actions, and their interactions with law enforcement. Thus, impeding News2Share's videos also hinders intelligence on "one of the most concerns of our time."

National extremism correspondent Will Carless also defended Fischer, proclaiming that his videos have been used by other journalists "countless times to analyze and understand hectic and dangerous conflicts."

"@YouTube needs to get its act together and stop deplatformjng [sic] legitimate journalists," Carless volleyed.

This isn't the first time YouTube has taken action against Fischer. In 2019, Fischer's account was demonetized after two of his videos were removed when the site moved to police Holocaust denialism.

The first upload showed pro-Palestine and pro-Israel protesters shouting down an involved Holocaust denier at that year's American Israel Public Affair Committee conference. The other post published raw footage of neo-Nazi Mike Peinovich Enoch's speech. Fischer was not promoting the views shown, but it still took seven months for YouTube to re-monetize his channel.

When The Post Millennial reached out to Fischer for comment, he forwarded this public press statement: "I'm hoping it will be resolved much faster this time."

Fischer acknowledged that he found that the "drastic step of public advocacy" is the "only method that seems to work." While he is "not an activist," years of covering activism has taught him that "nothing is more powerful than using one's voice to hold unaccountable institutions accountable."

As it relates to alternative media sites, he "prefer[s] to access the widest audience by using the largest platforms." His since-established Odysee account will back up his YouTube videos. He will also enable cross-posting to Minds to do the same.

YouTube also removed progressive news outlet Status Coup's video Wednesday—which has since been licensed by CNN and the Guardian—that depicted the Capitol police cop who was pinned between a doorway and the mass of rioters.

Status Coup's livestream of last month's peaceful Second Amendment rally was also taken down because the video of the Virginia gun rights demonstration violated YouTube's firearms policy.

"HOW ARE JOURNALISTS SUPPOSED TO CHRONICLE HISTORY IF YOUTUBE-AND OTHERS-ARE OUTLAWING IT?" tweeted Status Coup's outraged co-founder Jordan Chariton.

Chariton demanded that YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki should have to explain to reporters why it is she is censoring journalism in an "overly broad and misguided facade of cracking down on extremism."

"What she and YouTube are doing is SUPPRESSING JOURNALISM," he wrote in the same Twitter thread, pressing that YouTube's position should be to chronicle accounts captured for authorities as evidence.

The notice stated: "YouTube does not allow live streams showing someone holding, handling, or transporting a firearm." Chariton rebutted, explaining that by this standard, "THE ENTIRE WORLD wouldn't have seen the armed insurrection at the Capitol last week."

He then listed all of the media giants that used Status Corps's footage, firing that YouTube is not booting mainstream "authoritative" channels, because "they are deemed advertiser friendly" and "their army of lawyers would challenge YouTube."

Chariton declared that YouTube is "only going after INDEPENDENT journalists." He pivoted, quipping that he had to tell his freelancer not to go live and report on protests for fear of YouTube's next "copyright strike" or the channel's removal altogether. "[W]e have to NOT DO JOURNALISM because of YouTube. This is OUTRAGEOUS," Chariton concluded.

YouTube's treatment of Status Coup has since caused Chariton to rethink how tech companies handle purported misinformation. Just after the Washington siege, Chariton thought that every media outlet that pushes election fraud conspiracy to be contrarian "for clicks" should be "taken off the air."

But now with time to reflect after he witnessed "Silicon Valley's censorship onslaught," Chariton regrets his previous tweet "made in heat of [the] moment."

"Whether certain cable/YouTube outlets mislead audiences w/ dishonest claims lacking real evidence, they shouldn't be targeted," he prefaced the recent thread.

Having "been in-the-field" at more pro-Trump and right-wing rallies than he "care[s] to remember," Chariton tweeted that he has seen up close the "power of dangerous misinformation" like "Stop the Steal" and QAnon. Such rhetoric is "horrible" and causes "great damage to an already severely misinformed and uninformed country."

But if those hosts and channels are  "not directly calling for people to commit violence," then they have the "right to spew misinformation and/or conspiracies dressed up as journalism."

He launched Status Coup, because there is an "information war in this country in which the corporations who hijacked media outlets are winning" as the Internet oligarchs regulate, determine, and gate keep what is and isn't trustworthy news.

Now, more than ever, it is clear those corporations "who are in bed w/ Silicon Valley" are "purging the FEW independent leftist outlets." Chariton casted shame on The Young Turks and other outlets with much bigger platforms for "not drawing more attention to this censorship binge."

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