I've created this site to document my boycott strike against YouTube. You can see that strike below.
Since the beginning of the Covid 19 crisis, deletions of content on social media platforms for political reasons have increased significantly. The wave of deletions in 2021 has been quite excessive. Critical and opposing viewpoints are increasingly merely deleted, because they do not conform with the narratives and policies of Western (or other) governments. Increasingly, social media platforms play their roles as expended arms of governments – or rather the other way around: Governments restrain their expressions and actions to the narrative space that is defined and constrained by mainstream social media platforms.
Up until recently, media have played a role as crucial corrective for the actions of governments and corporations. They have played a rather informal role in a vast network of checks and balances. Now, the largest media providers have lost this role and merely provide echo chambers for official policies of national governments and international organizations.
This change cannot be allowed to continue unopposed. The more the media landscape gets constrained by censorship, the less people are free to form valid opinions that are opposed to short-sighted and ruinous policies. Even though legal challenges against censorship have been, and will continue to be successful, they fail to solve the problem on a fundamental level. Even though some may see a positive role in censorship though its function of providing a motivation and chance for alternative media platforms to rise and threaten the dominance of the old players, censorship cannot be allowed to be accepted merely for some of its positive effects.
The idea of the boycott strike came from the strike system of YouTube. I thought it would represent a fitting irony that YouTube becomes the target of a system that it uses itself. Traditional boycotts are relatively effective, but combining those with a strike and appeal system can be seen as elevating boycotts to a new level of civic discourse with organizations that harm society with their actions. This kind of discourse can be very effective, if it possesses enough legitimacy and momentum.
We as active participants in civil society need to point out the worst offenses against the freedom and well-being of humans around the world. The reason why YouTube is a reasonable target for actions like these, is both its reach as media platform, but also the expectation that there is still a realistic chance for reform to the better. To put things into perspective: Boycotting autocratic governments or criminal organizations might still be effective, but there is little hope with those for an open and civil discourse that will decisively change them to the better.
Official Notice for YouTube about the first Strike for violating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
This is an official notification that I issue a strike on YouTube for violating article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
The reason for this strike is the deletion of the YouTube channel "RT DE". I interpret that decision as act of arbitrary censorship, which causes a significant deprivation of people to receive relevant and important information.
The existence of YouTube Community Guidelines does not grant YouTube immunity to act arbitrarily and to commit acts of censorship without offering a very good explanation and sufficient proof for the necessity of that action. As popular public platform, the actions of YouTube are of significant public interest and therefore grave arbitrary acts of censorship represent a serious violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For many people YouTube news channels are an important source for crucial information. The deletion of a major news channel represents a significant constraint of the availability of important information.
This strike has the nature of a warning. The final effect of accumulating three strikes consists in the start of a complete boycot of YouTube after a grace period of 30 days after receiving the third strike.
Even after the third strike, additional strikes can be collected. The relevance of this clause is explained in the section "Boycott Appeal Process".
Strike Appeal Process
There are two ways to undo this strike:
- Undo the deletion of the channel "RT DE".
- Prove that this act of censorship was truly necessary to avoid a more serious violation of human rights.
This strike does not expire and can only be undone by one of the methods mentioned above.
Boycott Appeal Process
In the case of a boycott starting 30 days after the third strike the boycott stays in effect, if one strike is removed. To end the boycott, it would be necessary to remove all strikes that have accumulated before or after the start of the boycott.
Conditions for Further Strikes
Further strikes can be issued for other cases of violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A simple continuation of an already committed violation doesn't warrant issuing an additional strike.
Adult humans are sovereign in their choice of the media they want to consume. The deletion of a YouTube channel represents a restriction of the free choices of free people. Such an act is by its nature political, since it concerns the sphere of public interaction through the exchange of opinions and information. Political acts should be in accordance with the text and spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
While it is possible that such issues can be resolved by the own appeals process of YouTube, or by legal recourse, the functionality of these mechanisms can be questioned, especially during a state of crisis. A lack of functionality in these classical mechanisms can be compensated by free actions of civil society. The sovereignty of free humans implies their freedom to refrain from interacting with platforms they deem harmful to themselves or civil society as a whole.
This justifies this strike an as independent act of a member of civil society.
Sincerely, Michael Hrenka October, 13th 2021