11 Comments

Summary:

A posted video of six teenage girls viciously beating a classmate has once again thrust YouTube into the center of a debate pitting technology against free speech. Of course, there are cries for YouTube to proactively monitor content and remove fight videos, but the video-sharing company […]

A posted video of six teenage girls viciously beating a classmate has once again thrust YouTube into the center of a debate pitting technology against free speech. Of course, there are cries for YouTube to proactively monitor content and remove fight videos, but the video-sharing company says this would ruin the fabric of the site. So what should be done?

With 10 hours of footage uploaded per minute, it’s insane to think YouTube could accurately sift through all that content. Scanning for fight videos isn’t like watching for porn, which has some obvious, er, attributes. There is no way the company could make a judgment as to what is real and what is fake. Nor should we call on it to do so.

But should YouTube do nothing? Search for “after school fight” on YouTube and you get 1,830 results. Granted, not all of them are real fights, and there are duplicates, but does YouTube’s massive audience help perpetuate this “craze”? Before, if you beat someone up, you looked tough in front of your classmates. Now, if you catch it on camera, you can show the world.

Obviously, the number of fight videos on YouTube is dwarfed by the amount of happier lip-synching and piano-playing kitty content. And the notion that kids are pummeling each other for public sport indicates that there are issues bigger than video sharing. But what is the right solution as far as online video’s role, or is there one?

  1. Simple. More Pillow Fights!

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  2. 1990: Girl gets jumped by three girls while a group of 20 kids stand around watching.

    2008: Girl gets jumped by three girls while a group of 20 kids stand around watching. One records the action on his cell phone and uploads it to YouTube. Parents get outraged and call for YouTube to filter out these videos because they “encourage” this “craze.”

    In other words, this stuff isn’t new. Now we just know about it because some knucklehead decided to upload the video instead of, you know, breaking up the fight.

    All banning the videos would do is ban the videos. It wouldn’t stop the fights from happening. In fact, it’s a good thing that they’re being recorded and uploaded because that’s evidence should a criminal or civil case result.

    I don’t think YouTube has any responsibility here aside from preserving evidence.

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  3. Yeah let’s educate these kids and their parents rather than ban free speech. How stupid do people have to get before we realize that hey this isn’t supposed to happen in the first place. Mostly let’s get parents to do a better job of raising their kids. Incidentally my son is now 20 and he would never have participated in any aspect of this tragedy save to stop it.

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  4. Scanning for fight videos isn’t like watching for porn, which has some obvious, er, attributes.

    I don’t buy this – what’s the difference? If youtube has the ability to filter for porn, they can filter for anything. Youtube can filter when they need to (porn) but they cry helpless when it doesn’t suit them (copyrighted video etc).

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  5. Let’s spend more time fixing the real world problem not the virtual one.

    If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it…

    If there are no (or fewer) fights happening there will be nobody to view them…

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  6. Blaming YouTube/MySpace for fight videos is akin to blaming a river for the water within its banks.

    The obvious and unsexy answer is to increase tech-savvy education, although even a diligent attempt to do so won’t prevent kids from recording themselves making poor decisions.

    An optimistic take: We may simply be experiencing a transition period where access to distribution is greater than knowledge of how that distro works. Pessimistic take: kids will never understand that until it’s too late.

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  7. The question implicit here is whether the possibility of YouTube notoriety encourages copycat behavior.

    Do videos viewed by millions encourage the spread of copycat bad behavior? Twenty years ago, something like “happy slap” attacks probably wouldn’t have gotten much attention beyond local news media.

    I’m not calling for YT to preemptively filter fight videos. But it wouldn’t be a bad thing for them to take a closer look at any videos that crossed a certain threshold of views in a short time, to monitor for obscene content or seemingly criminal behavior.

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  8. The phenomenon of bad parenting is as old as the concept of “corrupting the youth” (see greek philosophy). At least now we have evidence of bad parenting gone rampant.

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  9. leonwestbrook Wednesday, April 9, 2008

    When I saw the parents of the victim on the CBS early show I just rolled my eyes when when the stupid father had the gall to blame myspace/youtube and god not being in schools (which doesn’t have anything to do with why her daughter got beat up. )

    At least the Mother was smart to blame it on improper parenting.

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  10. Free Speech? Since when is it free speech to beat somebody up on video and post it on YouTube? That’s a silly notion.

    The rights of the person getting beat up should be considered first. If they don’t consent to the posting then it should be removed. The video of the teens beating up the girl was not in the public forum, like on the street, it was in a private home, so privacy laws ARE in effect.

    I know there are clowns who disagree and maybe they should get beat up too – and the video of it shown on YouTube so they can see how humiliating it is.

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  11. Another thing. This wasn’t a fight video. This was more than that.

    1. They tricked her into coming over.
    2. They beat her up.
    3. They knocked her out.
    4. Beat her up again when she woke up.
    5. She tried to leave but they did not let her.
    6. They drove her far away and told her that if she went to the police they would beat her up again.
    7. She suffered probable permanent injuries.

    All the while screaming at her like crazy bitches (That alone would’ve drove me crazy).

    So there are a lot of felony charges here. Premeditated Assault and Kidnapping just to name a couple. This was not a spontaneous fight. The pack of girls are getting what they deserve.

    Don’t believe me? Try it. Do the same thing to someone, video tape it, put it on YouTube and see what happens to you.

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