Should YouTube be closed?

I’ve been following the media coverage about the call from the Professional Association of Teachers for sites like YouTube to be closed – because they say they encourage bullying and harassment of teachers.

Both of these are extremely serious issues – but the idea that closing YouTube is the answer causes me two concerns: (a) is it really a solution? and (b) is a complete closing of YouTube an over-the-top reaction (even to horrific individual cases)?

The risk with media coverage of course often is that the details aren’t got quite right – so I went to see what the teachers themselves had said. I have to say – in all honesty – their arguments didn’t persuade me.

The Observer had a good round up story last weekend – but in it one teacher complained that they couldn’t complain against an inappropriate film because they weren’t a member of YouTube. Well – it’s only a matter of a few minutes to become a member and you don’t need to pay anything. Wouldn’t it be better if teachers were members of YouTube and made proper use of its channels for reporting things rather than say, “I’m not a member, so I can’t do anything proper, so the whole site must be closed”? I know this might sound very critical – but if you’re going to ask for the closure of one of the biggest websites (and one that is used for all sorts of funny, entertaining, educational and wonderful purposes – along with all the dodgy stuff) I think you need to really work at using the alternative avenues first.

The union’s website also has the full text of some speeches made in the debate. There were some horrible examples given of abuse – and my heart goes out to those on the receiving end of it – but again there wasn’t any real case made that closing YouTube would really solve the problem or is an appropriate solution. No real case as to how YouTube was failing in its current policies or how they could be improved for the future. And no real case that the existence of YouTube was making the problem worse.

So – if you’re a teacher and agree with what the union said, you’d better get in touch to persuade me to change my mind!

UPDATE: I’ve got an online poll here.

0 thoughts on “Should YouTube be closed?

  1. Despite the perverse manner in which some sections of our society utilise Youtube and other websites which display clips, for the overwhelming majority of internet users it can be an enormously valuable source of information. It brings to people a range of diverse opinions and viewpoints, from all sections of our society and globally. However, as many people would certainly be concerned, children and mainly children are uploading a significantly high proportion of violent videos that show kids causing harm to one another. For instance, last week’s Panorama conducted a full length programme detailing how ‘kids, as young as eleven or even younger than that, are uploading unlawful and unpleasant material, markedly kids attacking each other and bullying each other. This kind of material is unacceptable and encourages attacks of a similar nature to occur. Throughout the early segments of Panorama, its researcher further discussed another website called LiveLeak- which, according to Panorama, allows its users to upload children fighting or attacking other kids, and that the founder refused publicly to ‘take down the extremely violent videos we Panorama brought to his attention.’ During his interview, he stated to Panorama that: “Look all this is happening, this is real life, this is going on, we’re going to show it”. The difficult question is how far would we go in banning material that we regard as unpleasant? I certainly would want bullying and violent material removed. But someone else would argue, why not ban this or that etc etc. It is all debatable. There should be an open and robust debate on this issue. In a democratic and open society, if cases of this nature are occurring, then people need to know about it. But there are certainly far more civilised and appropriate mechanisms to ensure that happens. However, using such material to make money and become rich as some companies are is simply unacceptable. What do you think LYNNE? Do you think it Youtube should be shut down?

  2. Hi Lynne I just thought I’d say I totally agree with you, it really annoys me when uninformed people try to make just make a fuss about something instead of trying to actually solve the problem. Wish my area had the sense to vote in a Lib Dem MP 😦

  3. Mash, I don’t think YouTube should be closed. I’m always happy to listen to people make their case, but this time the case doesn’t come close to persuading me. As regards the question of whether YouTube deal properly with complaints when they are made – the one example given of this supposedly not happening again is not a very convincing one – see my original post.

  4. Thank you Lynne for sharing your views. I think one needs to strike a balance, on the one hand there needs to be that freedom to access websites or Youtube and ensuring that such websites are not inappropriately misused by people. For instance, those uploading any material that may be explicitly harmful and expose children who are victim of violent attacks (recorded on a mobile recorder). Lynne, you know what, when i was in year 7 (aged 13) I did not even know this invention called ‘mobile recording’ and nowadays kids are recording violent confrontations on them….. how terribly depressing. Furthermore, I probably agree with you, but still feel strongly about protecting people from being exposed. Can you imagine a child physically assaulted by a gang of people and their humilating experience is uploading onto youtube or any other websites, so that a few people can get laughs. That must be heartbreaking to families……Same could go for teachers whom may also fall victim. I am sure you agree that we need to strike some form of balance?

  5. Suggesting to ban YouTube is such a completely ludicrous proposition that I do not understand how anybody can even suggest it.The moment you do that, the Internet will do the work it is designed to do, ant the videos would appear elsewhere (USENET, other websites, email chains, P2P networks, ftp sites, Second Life). Can somebody tell this people that the cat is out of the bag and there is no way to put it back there?The root problem is children bullying and beating others that think it is funny. Some people want to treat the symptom forgetting about the root cause.Take care of how society function and these videos would disappear by themselves.As for YouTube specifically, there is a big button there to report inappropriate material. If today’s teachers can’t master this basic computing skill (registering themselves in a website to report a problem) one has to wonder if they are prepared to lead a classrom where most children will be technologically savy.Madam, you are absolutely correct to be skeptical about this “proposal”.

  6. Closing YouTube is not a solution to bullying. There are dozens and dozens of video sharing sites, like YouTube, including Viddler,, Google Video, Vimeo, blinkx, MySpace, and OurMedia. Closing one service would have no impact on video sharing as a whole, as users would simply move to another site. And if you tried to shut down all video sharing services, eventually you would run into one that was based in a country where you couldn’t bring pressure to bear. Indeed, I would questions whether or not it is even possible to “shut down” video sharing sites, as the vast majority of content on these sites is not objectionable (leaving copyright infringement aside, as there is already adequate recourse for rights holders to get infringing material removed). YouTube are certainly not going to submit without a fight, and I am unsure on what legal grounds one could bring about their closure. But for me, the biggest objection I have to this call to shut YouTube is that it will do precisely nothing to prevent bullying. Bullying is a complex social problem, and so the solutions that might actually be effective are going to be neither headline-grabbing nor simple. I am sure that research has been done into bullying, and that would be where I would start – why do some children turn into bullies and others their victims? Then I’d find out what solutions to bullying have been tried, and which ones worked? Would reducing class sizes help? How about training teachers and classroom assistants in how to deal with bullying? How about providing more money for youth centres and other places where children and teenagers can go when they are not in school? How about examining ways to improve the engagement of parents in their children’s schooling?Complex social problems need complex social solutions.

  7. It does seem rather similar to saying that some books and magazines contain highly offensive/racist/homophobic material, and therefore that books and magazines should be banned. Banning YouTube is clearly attacking the problem from the wrong end, as others have said.Is it not possible to use the video clips to help catch the perpetrators? Presumably even if the perpetrators manage to keep themselves unidentifiable in the clip, and upload it to YouTube through an anonymous account, both the victim surely often knows who they were, and YouTube must know what IP address the clip was uploaded from (as well as details of the camera/phone it was filmed on).

  8. Good luck closing You Tube..I think that some people are underestimating the size of you tube and more importantly their owners, Google. What you must remember is that Google have just bought the YouTube brand for $1.65bn and it’s closure, I could imagine, would be incredibly unlikely.Why not instead try to find a way to work with, rather against YouTube in order to ensure that the unfair bullying of teachers and students, is stopped.You must remember how even with a YouTube closure, there are still hundreds of other similar sites which your students will use instead, and closing every multibillion dollar website is not going to be favourable by their owners, employees, genuine users and the industry.