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YouTube rape video causes demand for moderation of content

By Paul Wallis     Mar 4, 2008 in Internet
The sick side of the video culture has hit the world. A London mother's rape last November was posted on YouTube by the offenders, who filmed the attack with a cell hone. Nobody is exactly thrilled and YouTube is taking a lot of flak.
The attack was grim enough, but the possibilities are grimmer. There were already videos of assaults on YouTube. But this is getting to a new level, and YouTube is under reasonable demand for someone to keep an eye on content.
From the Daily Telegraph:
The mother decided to report the gang-rape to the police after hearing rumours of the YouTube footage, which was taken off the site after a local reporter complained about its graphic nature.
"Putting (the video) on the internet was an abomination," the mother said.
"I was raped on film and you could hear my daughter and four-year-old son crying. I cannot understand how any website could show such a thing."
A YouTube spokesman told The Times that the site's rules prohibited content such as pornography and gratuitous violence from being uploaded.
The classic situation of a rape not being reported now has the dubious new distinction of being advertised by the offenders. One can only wonder how those rumors reached the victim, because it can’t have been fun to find out.
This situation qualifies as a serious public risk. Copycat crimes aren’t exactly unknown. Cell phone culture has had a very sleazy side for a long time now, and phone cameras have been “credited” with facilitating a lot of assaults.
So having a global venue for a sort of crime sportscast isn’t such a great idea.
YouTube’s legal position is up to a court.
But how innocent can a medium be, if the medium is spreading this message?
As the Daily Telegraph article points out, there are physical problems with monitoring everything put on YouTube in real time, because of volumes. Uploading is easy, monitoring isn’t.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. A delay could be put on uploads for screening, and more moderators could be hired.
One way or another, the medium is now the problem, and the problem does have to be solved.
More about YouTube, Rape, Moderating content