For the past two years, the Boston Basic Income YouTube channel has been live streaming our weekly discussion group as we explore different topics as they relate to basic income (UBI). We’ve covered nearly 100 different topics as varied as The Housing Market, the Green New Deal, Say’s Law, the Great Depression, and Consumer Monetary Theory.
Our recorded discussions have been a useful resource for people who seek to gain a deeper understanding of basic income. The videos contain important basic income content that just isn’t available anywhere else or in any other form. Except not. Because now it isn’t available anywhere.
This account has been terminated for a violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service.
As far as I can tell, the offending content is our upcoming discussion with special guest Karl Widerquist. In other words, it’s content that doesn’t even exist yet. Karl is a philosophy professor who has been writing about basic income for decades. Perhaps YouTube is employing a Minority-Report-style PreCrime unit that foresees Karl committing an act so heinous as to get the entire channel banned. But I don’t think so.
Could there be a copyright problem with the channel? Most weeks, we discuss excerpts from relevant articles or occasionally clips from videos or podcasts. But I can’t imagine that any of this doesn’t fall under the umbrella of fair use.
Bear in mind that I had received no notice that anything was amiss up till this point. And when I read the Terms of Service, nothing stands out to me. There’s certainly nothing in there that would warrant immediate permanent termination of the Boston Basic Income account.
So, what happened? Two days ago (Thursday April 9, 2020), I received two emails from YouTube 26 minutes apart.
Here’s the first one.
Boston Basic Income, your content violated YouTube’s Community Guidelines and has been removed
This looks like a simple warning about a minor content violation, right? They claim to have removed the offending content and they’re admonishing me to be more careful next time. Fair enough, right?
Our team has reviewed your content, and, unfortunately, we think it violates our . We’ve removed the following content from YouTube:
Video: Boston Basic Income #98: Karl Widerquist on Private Property
Apparently, our content violated their _____. But again, this is next week’s live stream. All it contained was the title, the preview picture, and the description, which are the same as what we have on our Facebook event and our Meetup event (minus the Zoom link and other logistics).
Boston Basic Income #98: Karl Widerquist on Private Property
Philosopher and basic income expert Karl Widerquist returns to Boston Basic Income to talk about how basic income is a key factor in helping private property systems function effectively.
Karl will talk for an hour followed by questions.
Photo by Lisa Johnson on Pixabay
A couple of people on Twitter and Facebook have suggested that YouTube’s AI algorithms thought we were inciting people to violate private property. That’s as good a guess as any, I suppose. I chose the image because, for obvious reasons, it evokes the concept of private property. We used Karl’s face the last time he did Boston Basic Income and I didn’t want to be redundant.
Look at him. Look at that genuine smile. He’s harmless. I can’t imagine that this is anything other than a mistake on YouTube’s part. But what’s shocking is that they don’t have more safeguards in place before immediately hitting the “permanent termination” button on someone’s account. Speaking of which, here’s the second email I received 26 minutes later.
YouTube Account Notification
Yikes. They received a complaint? And they terminated our account “upon review”? Was there really a review? After submitting the appeal form, I received the following email from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Okay. It seems a little weird that I’d have to go through G Suite Support to resolve an issue with my YouTube account, but I’m willing to try anything at this point. Here’s yesterday’s transcript of my chat with the live support representative(s).
Subject: My YouTube account has been permanently terminated without warning. I think this is a mistake.
Chat Started: Fri, 10 Apr 2020 06:31:48 -0700
Chat Subject: My YouTube account has been permanently terminated without warning. I think this is a mistake.
Google Cloud Support, Miguel: Thank you for contacting G Suite Support. My name is Miguel and I’ll be working with you today. While I read over your message, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Google Cloud Support, Miguel: Hi! I hope you’re doing fine Alex.
Alex Howlett: Hi Miguel.
Alex Howlett: My YouTube channel was terminated:
Alex Howlett: Here are the emails I received (26 minutes apart)
Alex Howlett: Customer attached youtube_content.png:
Alex Howlett: Customer attached youtube_terminated.png:
Google Cloud Support, Luisana: Thank you for contacting G Suite Support. My name is Luisana and I’ll be working with you today. While I read over your message, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Google Cloud Support, Luisana: Hi Alex, it looks like the connection with Miguel was lost. I apologize for the inconveniences but I’ll be happy to continue assisting you.
Alex Howlett: Hi Luisana. Thanks.
Alex Howlett: The content that was flagged was for an upcoming live stream that hasn’t even aired yet.
Google Cloud Support, Luisana: Allow me just a quick moment to read over the chat transcript.
Alex Howlett: Thanks.
Google Cloud Support, Luisana: Alright, I understand your Youtube Channel has been flagged for violating terms of service and the Youtube support decided to remove the content or not let it air. Is this right?
Alex Howlett: My YouTube channel has been permanently terminated.
Alex Howlett: without warning
Alex Howlett: And I believe it is an error because I don’t believe I have violated the terms of service.
Google Cloud Support, Luisana: I see. Well, Alex I’m sorry to read this but I’m afraid that Youtube is not part of the core suite of G Suite services defined at https://gsuite.google.com/terms/user_features.html
Google Cloud Support, Luisana: This is out of the scope of our support, I don’t have any control over this however, allow me a moment to investigate in their Help Center to see if there is anything that can be done to have them reconsider.
Alex Howlett: Thanks. It would be nice if I could know who to talk to.
Alex Howlett: I filled out the appeal form yesterday, but I haven’t heard back.
Alex Howlett: Other than a cryptic email about contacting G Suite support to reactivate my account… which I’m not sure is related.
Google Cloud Support, Luisana: Unfortunately they don’t have live support agents since it’s a free service, only for Youtube TV memberships I believe. They only have contact via email once they review your appeal closely. About contacting G Suite, it doesn’t really apply to your case since this account is fully active at the moment.
Alex Howlett: Hmm.
Alex Howlett: This is the email I received.
Alex Howlett: Customer attached g-suite.png:
Alex Howlett: (after filling out the appeal form for YouTube)
Google Cloud Support, Luisana: OK, I am checking here and all I see that can be done about this is fill out the appeal form you already submitted. You can confirm this here https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2802168
Google Cloud Support, Luisana: The email you receive looks like a template email, like an automatic reply. It doesn’t regard your appeal so that’s not the one that you will receive regarding this.
Alex Howlett: I see.
Alex Howlett: Any idea how long they take to respond to the appeals?
Google Cloud Support, Luisana: In these type of situations it normally takes from 48 to 72 hours but I don’t really have a way of knowing truly how long it will take, we don’t have contact with the Youtube team.
Alex Howlett: OK. Thank you for your help even though it’s not your area.
Google Cloud Support, Luisana: No problem, hope you can get this resolved as soon as possible.
Google Cloud Support, Luisana: I will be closing this case but please don’t hesitate to get in touch in the future if you need any assistance with your core G Suite services, we’ll be happy to help.
Google Cloud Support, Luisana: Thanks for chatting with Google Cloud support. There’s a short survey coming up and we’d love to hear your feedback about our interaction today. Have a good rest of your day.
Alex Howlett: Thank you. I will.
Google Cloud Support, Luisana: Stay safe.
Hopefully, by the time you read this, the matter will be resolved. If not, Boston Basic Income will be live streaming future sessions and storing our videos on another platform. We will continue to organize our weekly Zoom meetings through our Facebook and Meetup groups. And, as always, our discussions will be open to the public. Boston Basic Income isn’t going anywhere.
I do have backup archives of many of the videos and they will be back online again as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I was not diligent enough in keeping backups — especially early on. I am missing the following 21 videos.
5. Moral Concerns
6. How to Pay for It
7. Andrew Yang
8. Funding Schemes
10. Human Purpose
11. The Nature of Poverty
12. The Nature of Money
14. Technological Unemployment
15. The Future
16. Climate and the Environment
18. Intellectual Property
19. Project Greshm
22. Meritocracy and Entitlement
30. Population Growth
36. Iran Subsidy Reform
63. Universal Basic Assets
65. The Free Rider Problem
If YouTube fails to fix this error, then that content is largely gone. The good news is that I’ve written posts at the Project Greshm Blog based on the first 14 Boston Basic Income discussions. In the process of doing so, I created partial transcripts of those particular videos. We’ll piece together as much as we can.
I understand that online platforms like YouTube are experiencing extra load during this time of social distancing. I hope that’s all this is and that our YouTube channel will be back to normal soon.
The moral of the story is to back up your videos.
By the way, did you know that YouTube launched as a dating site?