So, as someone who owes their current position to the opportunity to participate on the YouTube platform, and as someone who could potentially be subject to their new restrictions (or the subsequent restrictions as they descend this slippery slope), I’ve been thinking about the relationship that we have with YouTube, especially as a private company whose resources we enjoy, rightfully, at their discretion.
I’m not saying that YouTube should be subject to any kind of requirement to host or monetize videos that they don’t want to host or monetize. I believe that government intervention into dictating YouTube policy would constitute an overreach which is just as dangerously consequential as the short-sighted policy such an intervention would be attempting to correct. But I do wish that YouTube had the wisdom, fortitude, and vision to appreciate that if they’re part of a small cartel of private venues which account for what has become a significant portion of the public sphere, then they become responsible for the public sphere. And the only truly responsible, hubris-free, unintended consequence-free position to take is one of strict content neutrality.
Nobody knows for certain what information we should and shouldn’t share and what conversations we should and shouldn’t have, even if it’s controversial, dangerous, offensive, or factually incorrect. You never know what you’ll learn from being wrong, what dialogue you’ll generate through offense, or what kinds of solutions, innovations and skills might result from the open sharing of information.
The only way that we’ll move forward through the Information Age is by learning to be responsible with the capacity for massive information sharing. And we won’t develop that crucial muscle by binding, restricting, or babying it into atrophy.