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.

A Hoot

My mate Mark Pack has got the Tories going some! Now – as a non-geek – I did have to phone him to ask what astro-turfing was. To elucidate. One Tory – Grant Shapps – stands accused of trying to fake a comment on YouTube which claimed to be from a Liberal Democrat, only was really from him. Tsk tsk!

Now, Iain Dale (who – even though he is a Tory! – I actually quite like and is usually worth reading) seems to have lost his reason and is defending the indefensible. Iain would have us believe that some evil people were using Grant’s easily guessable password. Grant’s meant to be an IT expert, but even I know you shouldn’t set your password to 1234, I mean really! – yet that’s what Iain claims he did – and then that someone guessed it – and then that someone set him up. And then – even better – the story also involves Grant (or his staff) having supposedly spotted a problem a few days ago – but then not changing the password when they did!

So no surprise – reading the comments on Iain’s blog – pretty much no one believes his story. Stop digging seems to be the advice to Grant.

Oh the joy of by-elections!