On Monday (June 28) morning, the people behind the YouTube channel Right Wing Watch, a left-wing channel that aims to expose right-wing extremists, were informed that their channel was getting banned permanently from the platform as it violated community guidelines. After several hours, the channel was back online.
The Daily Beast got clarification behind the actions taken against the left-wing YouTube channel. The video platform mistakenly banned it initially as it violated its community guidelines. The notice given to the content creators about the guidelines was not specific in how it was violated. Hours later, a review came that found the accident and reinstated the channel. The issue was cited as being due to a high volume of videos.
At first, Right Wing Watch tried to appeal the decision, which was rejected. With the ban on YouTube, videos were taken down. Eight hours later is when the Google-owned company reversed course.
Daily Beast also spoke to a senior member of the channel, Kyle Mantyla, who told the outlet about its ongoing issue. YouTube has been giving the watchdog trouble for years. The group has tried to be clear to the platform of the intentions in the videos produced to report on alt-right activities. Due to conspiracies surrounding COVID-19 and the U.S. election, the relationship got tenser as Right Wing Watch got thrown into the mix of videos that were filled with misinformation. Back in April, the channel had two strikes, one for a QAnon conspiracy theorist and another on a pastor, Hank Kunneman.
The third strike came, which landed a ban on YouTube. Business Insider reports that the final blow came from a video uploaded eight years ago, which featured Bryan Fischer, a Christian radio host.
The actions that YouTube has taken to political-leaning channels have stirred controversy. The basis for it is that there are claims that the site reinforces extreme conservative views, and its algorithm is more likely to suggest videos to curate to that audience. A study from Anti-Defamation League found data to support the idea that the company is playing a part in exposing people to extreme ideology. It states that it can open the door to extreme content, with 9 percent of participants in the study watched at least one video from a channel that had a connection to white supremacy.
Counter studies have been done; for example, a study on First Monday has data to support the idea that YouTube has a left-leaning bias and curates its content toward mainstream media. It agreed that radicalization should be looked at, but its findings did not support that the algorithm is assisting in extreme rhetoric.
Right Wing Watch’s videos on YouTube and social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook reports on activity from right-wing extremists. This includes correcting disinformation, pointing out conspiracies, and exposing personalities and outlets of biases and prejudices. Over its decade of making content, the channel has garnered over 49,000 subscribers and over 50 million views. It was founded by People For the American Way, a non-profit advocacy group based in the U.S.