What Should be Done About Fight Videos?

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?

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