Saturday, August 18, 2007

Censorship on YouTube

I try to be a positive person. It takes a lot to make me mad. But when a birth clip I posted was deleted by both YouTube and Google I got mad. Below is a letter I sent to YouTube today. I welcome comments from anyone that has had a similar experience.

To Whom It May Concern:

Many wonderful childbirth videos have been deleted by YouTube supposedly because they violate your obscenity policies. Homebirth and natural childbirth videos are specifically being targeted, yet many are far less graphic than hospital birth videos which show close up images of vaginas being cut by doctors (episiotomies) and other interventions. Perhaps when birth is presented as a medical event it is viewed as acceptable but when it is presented as a natural, loving act between a woman, her baby and her partner it is viewed as sexual and therefore obscene.

My lovely video that was deleted by YouTube is now posted on my site.

Can YouTube tell me why my video was taken down yet these were not? Clip 1 and Clip 2

Censorship at YouTube is currently being discussed on message boards such as this one.

Those who have complained to YouTube have received letters of denial:

----- Original Message -----
From: "YouTube Support"
Sent: Saturday, June 30, 2007 10:06 AM
Subject: Re: YouTube Support

Thanks for your email.

Actually, we are not taking videos of natural birth down. If you could
please provide the URLs to the videos in question, I'll be able to look
into this matter further.

The YouTube Team

The letter above was sent on June 30th. I received the letter below on June 23rd.

Dear Member:
After being flagged by members of the YouTube community and reviewed by YouTube staff, the video below has been removed due to its inappropriate nature.

An unassisted childbirth:

Please refer to our Terms of Use and the Community Guidelines for more information on what video material is not permitted on YouTube.

The YouTube Team

YouTube has also deleted videos containing footage of mothers breastfeeding their babies. I understand that there are people that find natural birth and breastfeeding offensive and no doubt they will continue to flag these videos. I have no problem with these videos being flagged, as all one has to do is click a button stating they are over 18. But I see no reason to delete them entirely. Giving birth and breastfeeding a child are NOT obscene acts. YouTube should welcome these videos with open arms, as they are helping to break down society’s fears and misconceptions about these most natural and life-affirming activities.

Laura Shanley
Bornfree! The Unassisted Childbirth Page

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Postscript: Aug. 29 - today my video suddenly reappeared! I ended up sending 3 letters to YouTube (including the one above), so perhaps they decided to reconsider their position on homebirths! Hopefully it will stay up!

Update: March 2009 - The video remained up until July of 2008 when YouTube deleted it once again (see my blog posting about it here). This time they sent me a message telling me that my account would be permanently disabled if I reposted the video again. This seemed quite harsh, considering I had never reposted the video, they had. In any case, they did not respond to my request to repost it.