YouTube found blocking nearly all anti-Scientology content from its 'Videos' front page

ORIGINAL STORY HAS BEEN REMOVED FROM DIGG.
The removed Digg item can be found here.
This Digg button links to the one re-submission by another user that did get through, a big thanks to that user and the Digg community for making it happen.

12/02/2008 - We feel obliged to uncover this as it's one of the most extreme manifestations of internet-censorship we've witnessed to date.

Right after the international anti-Scientology protests of February 10th, YouTube has been blocking nearly all Scientology-related videos from getting to its 'Videos' front page. The anti-Scientology protests were one of the biggest displays of internet-activism to date, and it's saddening to see that such a massive worldwide event that normally would have dominated YouTube's entire 'Videos' front page was completely silenced and covered up by the biggest video website online, leading mainstream media and internet users to believe that the event was a total failure or didn't even take place. YouTube has now stated there's simply an issue with their servers, but this would be an extremely unlikely coincidence. Read on for more info.

For more info, check the report below, along with the list of facts.

UPDATE: YouTube has issued an official response, click here for info on that

 


DETAILED REPORT

Being YouTube power users, we know that YouTube's 'Videos' front page and other 'top' pages are not a real-time view of what's most popular but only update every 6 hours or so with a new view of what's most popular at that moment. In between those 6 hours, view counts and 'most popular' lists simply remain frozen until the next update. Most power users know that these updates happen at specific predictable intervals and that the website almost never skips a beat.

But since the worldwide Scientology protests started a few days ago, something very strange happened. YouTube videos of the raids became a huge news item on Digg and on countless other news sites. The strange thing is that all these videos had their view counts frozen for more than 48 hours. The view count is very important for a video's popularity because if it gets high enough within the first 48 hours, it will reach YouTube's 'Videos' front page, it becomes impossible to reach that page after this time. This means: freezing a video's view count keeps it from being seen by all casual YouTube visitors (more than 90% of YouTube's visitors). Of course this is something that's easily dismissed as a temporary website glitch or simply YouTube being under heavy load and updating slowly, but here this was simply not the case.

The following facts make it clear that YouTube temporarily blocked all Scientology-related content:

  1. YouTube has not had a huge website 'freeze' like this for years or probably, ever.
  2. YouTube has officially been pressured by Scientology before to remove videos.
  3. After the Anonymous raids, nearly all YouTube videos of the event had their view counts frozen for more than 48 hours
  4. Many non-Scientology related videos had normally updated view-counts
  5. The average YouTube video has about 100x more views than ratings. Unlike view counts, 'Video ratings' are real-time and clearly indicated that YouTube's 'Videos' front page would have been dominated by videos documenting the worldwide Scientology raids. (this zip file contains screenshots of some of these videos, showing their ratings and view counts)
  6. NEW: Google has in the past removed anti-Scientology URL's from its search engine.

Screenshots of the tip of the iceberg, some videos that should have made it to the 'Most Viewed' front page but didn't:

(click here for a high-res image of this collage / click here to download a zip of screenshots of these videos individually, showing view counts and ratings )

This article is not aimed at YouTube or Scientology, it is also not meant to promote Anonymous, it is simply aimed at informing internet users about yet another display of the decay of internet freedom.

We will keep doing this with every significant violation of net neutrality and freedom of speech on the net, in order to make a stand for internet freedom with the I Power community.

Sincerely,

The I Power team.

 

 

UPDATE: YouTube's official response

"There was an issue with video view counts not increasing that has now been resolved. The correct number of views should be displayed in the next 24 hours. Thanks for your patience." - from http://youtubestatus.blogspot.com

If this were true, it would be insanely coincidental that it happens at exactly the right time and in exactly the right way to keep all Scientology videos away from the front page. A glitch of this scale has NEVER before happened on YouTube and if it wouldn't have happened now, YouTube's 'Videos' front page would have been filled up with Scientology videos. This combined with YouTube having been under pressure from Scientology before and YouTube not being able to explain it better than "there was an issue", does make one wonder. We leave it up to the viewer/reader to think of this what you wish.

 

DISCUSS THIS ON THE I POWER FORUM

 

Contact info:
E-mail: ipower@movielol.org
Telephone: +32 (0) 496 93 90 44

Contact | 2008 I POWER | webdesign, photography and graphics by I POWER