WASHINGTON – People For the American Way (PFAW), a national progressive nonprofit advocacy group, has launched a petition urging YouTube to change its video takedown policy in response to a barrage of frivolous complaints aimed at PFAW’s Right Wing Watch YouTube channel.
On November 7, YouTube automatically terminated the channel of PFAW’s Right Wing Watch blog after Pastor Gordon Klingenschmitt, a right-wing activist who is a frequent subject of Right Wing Watch’s reporting, made a number of frivolous copyright claims against the account. On November 20, the channel was restored following YouTube’s procedure for challenging such false claims. Within a day, Klingenshmitt filed another series of complaints, causing the channel to be suspended yet again.
“We must be doing something right if right-wing, anti-gay activists are so eager to silence our voice,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “But we can’t allow a hatemonger like Klingenschmitt to hide his record of dangerous, bigoted rhetoric simply by filing a few false complaints. We appreciate the service that YouTube provides and have made it a central part of our work monitoring and exposing the radical right. Although we distribute our videos through multiple channels, YouTube is an important network for sharing this information. It’s disappointing that a single activist with a grudge can exploit a loophole in YouTube’s policies to bring down the work of an entire watchdog organization.”
Right Wing Watch has recorded Klingenschmitt’s long history of extremist rhetoric. Videos on our YouTube account show Klingenschmitt
- Lamenting that a West Point chapel that hosted a same-sex wedding was “desecrated” by “acts of sodomy performed on the Christian altar.”
- Warning that President Obama is creating an atheist military to attack Christians.
- Declaring that gay people “should be discriminated against.”
- Asserting that “demonic spirits” are behind everything from abortion to gay marriage to ENDA to President Obama to Wendy Davis to Madonna.
- Claiming that gay people are trying to “homosexualize and recruit your children,” that gay parents are “stealing” children in order to abuse and “recruit” them.
YouTube’s policy requires the automatic removal of an account if three challenges have been filed against theaccount simultaneously. Klingenschmitt has previously attempted, unsuccessfully, to get individual videos of himself removed from Right Wing Watch’s channel. Other right-wing figures have similarly attempted to abuse YouTube’s policy to hide videos of themselves; all the challenged clips have ultimately been restored.
Right Wing Watch’s YouTube channel holds thousands of videos that have collectively received more than 20 million views.
“Klingenschmitt’s attacks speak to the success we have had in monitoring and exposing extremism on the right,” added Keegan. “However, unless YouTube changes its policy to prevent serial frivolous copyright claims from people like Klingenschmitt from taking down accounts, we will continue to risk losing valuable reporting for any reason at any time. YouTube should not allow extremists to silence the watchdogs reporting on their extremism.”