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YouTube takes down alleged parody videos of Indian children using swear words

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YouTube has taken down a series of videos containing children using swear words and objectionable content (like “Adolf Hitler did nothing wrong”, “Feminism is Cancer” and “I get more a** than a toilet seat”) after Tejaswini Naik, a Mumbai resident, created a Change.org petition to have them removed. The petition had 52,523 signatures in its support.

Apparently, a tuition teacher was charging $5 (on Fiverr, a website where people pay $5 to get something done) to make and upload videos of the children saying content which Naik described in the petition as “racist, sexual and filled with hatred”. Naik says that she reported the videos to YouTube, which initially said that the videos did not violate its community guidelines.

Naik had started two Change.org petitions (here and here) where the videos were being sold, 3 weeks ago. After launching the petition, YouTube terminated the ‘PenorCut’ account and agreed to take down the content, saying that “…After careful review, we determined that it violated our community guidelines and so we’ve removed it. We will also work to remove copies of videos taken from the channel and reuploaded once they are flagged.”

Meanwhile, in a Reddit thread, a user claiming to be the admin of the PenorCut channel stated that the kids were getting paid an average of $40 per 32 seconds for shooting the video, and that he/she spent $1,000 with them.

In the Reddit thread, ‘RealPenorCut’ said that, “…All of this money will undoubtedly help them (the children) in their education and I can guarantee that because of these videos, these kids are better off than 99.99% of their peers… Now, these social justice warriors want to completely ruin their income and their livelihood because their poor little hearts find something offensive. I guess the principle of a free market and freedom of expression is too much to handle. If it’s too offensive for you and you don’t have a sense of humor, then don’t watch it. NONE of these kids were exploited, abused or mistreated. They were paid more money to say stupid things on video than most of you will earn hourly in a lifetime. They offer a video service, people purchase it and they decide what they want or don’t want to say. It’s their choice…”

He/she claimed that they did not make any profit making the videos, and were losing money for every order but kept making them because “the YouTube channel’s subscribers were having fun and having a laugh after seeing their suggestions on YouTube”.

KnowYourMeme (KYM), a website which documents internet memes and other online phenomena, described the PenorCut channel as a parody account focused on making videos where young Indian children are learning and reciting offensive internet phrases. KYM added that the submission of the description was under review for its fact check. The KYM description reads that PenorCut paid Fiverr user atika426 to make them. According to the site, the channel was created in August 2014.

MediaNama’s Take: It is unclear and we cannot independently verify if the videos PenorCut posted were parody or not. In case the videos were not of a parody nature, it shouldn’t have taken YouTube 3 weeks to take them down, and in case the videos were parody, it should have determined and stated so.

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Nikhil adds: YouTube has a history of not enforcing its own guidelines properly, and I sometimes wonder if those making these calls are actually qualified to make this assessment. YouTube acknowledging that the videos violate their guidelines after first saying that they don’t indicate that their processes are flawed. What happens to all the rejected complaints that aren’t able to build a campaign around them?

Or what about personal information? Some channel recently created a video using my old Twitter profile photos. I filed a privacy violation complaint with YouTube (thought it could have been a copyright complaint as well), and the company just turned it down. This is an innocuous case, and I’m not really bothered about it, but the complaint is valid. YouTube must be getting complaints by the truckloads, but if they’re allowing the uploading of 100 hours of videos a minute on their platform, it is also their responsibility to act on legitimate complaints. At the same time, if a copyright violation claim is filed by a music label, YouTube acts on it more quickly, and even has processes to work with copyright owners for addressing these complaints. So what do we learn from this? YouTube will act on complaints that they can be taken to court for, or something that is a PR disaster. Everything else is up in the air.

The news covered by Indian Express, Yahoo, The Quint, BuzzFeed, IBN Live and IndiaTimes.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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