The Racist Death-Mongering Citizenry of Youtube

So I’m browsing some election coverage, reading some blogs, and generally surfing when I came across this video.

Childish and pointless, but a comment by an oh-so-cleverly-named user caught my attention:

YoutubeDeathThreat

Now, some of you may be surprised, but you certainly should not be. Let me assure you that this sort of behavior on youtube is perfectly normal. Since I was well aware of this vibrant community of very happy people on youtube, I figured there must be some way to kick them in the balls and send them packing never to return. I was wrong.

I went to the youtube help pages, quickly realized that wasn’t going to help whatsoever, so I headed to the “Contact Us” page. Well below the first link on the page (the one that points to incredibly detailed instructions on how to submit DMCA takedown requests), I was shuffled over to the “Abuse and Policy Center” which tells me the only option for dealing with harassment or hate material is either closing my eyes and wishing really hard that the person fatally cuts themselves while shaving, or ignoring it and proceeding with life. Then, if I truly want more information, I should look at… the “Contact Us” page again!

From the Harassment help page:

If you have blocked and ignored someone and they still continue to intentionally try to upset you, you may report the instance to us as harassment. Harassment reports are taken very seriously, so please take a moment to consider whether you are actually being harassed. While it might be unpleasant to receive a comment that is rude or that you disagree with, it may not be considered harassment. If you would like to file a harassment report, please use our contact form.

After clicking on this link several times and being forwarded not to a contact form, but the Contact Us page, I realized the website wasn’t really going to give me a form which I could use to submit this person’s username, or an abuse email address that I could send the information to, so I started looking for any email addresses on their site. I found copyright@youtube.com and press@youtube.com, then I threw in abuse@youtube.com (just a guess, but I haven’t gotten a bounce yet), and fired off the following email to them:

I would be genuinely surprised if someone reads this email. You clearly care far less about the safety of your users than potential copyright infringement. The relative ease of submitting a frivolous DMCA request is chilling when juxtaposed with the mind-boggling complexity of warning you that people are posting death threats on your own website. I sincerely hope you do something to fix your apparent lack of interest immediately.

The point:

The following user has been spreading death threats against Barack Obama (I attached an example image). I think every action this user has taken while on youtube.com is blatantly in violation of the TOS.

http://www.youtube.com/user/KilltheNIGGERBITCH

One might think youtube would have a quick way to handle user input within this context, what with the shear quantity of half-witted backwoods sociopaths that gravitate towards websites which don’t require reading to spout comments which exude unfathomable levels of ignorance. Or, maybe it’s just me.

I hope you will act to quickly ban this IP address from the website and submit the information to the United States Secret Service as soon as possible.

Have a wonderful day (which should be relatively easy to do since people aren’t threating your life and such),
-Ryan Bruce

P.S. – In addition to sending this to the Secret Service I’ll also be posting this at www.ryanbruce.org.

I have not been able to alert the Secret Service/FBI yet, but I will call the Chicago Secret Service office tomorrow morning to fill them in. Here is the link to the list of Secret Service field locations.

So in closing, I hope that youtube can fix this broken system to acquire user input so that these issues can be taken care of as quickly as possible in the future. I also hope that youtube users will somehow wake the hell up.

What do you think?

[Update]
The user in question has been suspended.

Remember the contact form that I mentioned actually redirects to the Contact Us page? It only does this on Linux in Firefox. Windows in Firefox is fine.

[Update]

I received an email very promptly from a Scott at Google, to which I responded immediately. Both messages are below:

Hi Ryan,

I received your email to YouTube about the videos regarding Barack Obama.

We take issues like this very seriously. We count on our users to flag content they believe doesn’t belong on our site. We review flagged videos quickly, and if we find that they violate our Community Guidelines, we remove them, usually within hours.

By the time I received your email, we had already taken action on this particular matter.

regards,

Scott

Scott,

Thank you for the prompt response. The current system you have for reporting seems to have two problems from my perspective. Firstly, the system relies on the user to post video content for the other users to flag. This process works well when the user in question posts videos, but many users do not. Rather, they lurk in the comments of others’ videos promoting hate speech and tending to other generally unacceptable hobbies. Users could use the Mark as Spam feature, but this is a wholly different beast than a comment inciting violence or threatening another users well-being.

You currently have a very broken method for reporting these incidents. There is a page at http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/request.py?contact_type=userharassment however it fails to function in Firefox on Linux, which is just as useful as not existing at all. Instead of doing its job, the page redirect to your “contact us” page. In addition to the page not working, there is no publicized path to get to this page. You have to mull through several vaguely-related help pages instead of clicking on a “Report this User” link in the user profile, or on the first page of the help documents.

All in all, this is definitely something you need to look at further. I’m also curious whether you have the right processes in place for alerting the proper authorities when threats such as these are made.

Btw, did you respond to the email addressed to abuse, copyright or press @youtube.com?

Thank you,
-Ryan Bruce

The Christening

I won’t post well. I won’t post often. I won’t post what you like. I won’t respond to feedback. I won’t make sense. I certainly won’t pay attention. I will definitely forget your name. Have a safe, uneventful repiphany.