November 9, 2007 4:00 AM PST
Should YouTube play the censor and sentinel?
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Auvinen had more than 300 YouTube subscribers--meaning each time he uploaded a video they would automatically be alerted--and a large number of them shared his views, according to Baumer. "They would subscribe to each other's videos," she said.
CNET News.com reviewed clips from some of those connected to this group. The material contained montages of Nazi historical footage, endorsements of Timothy McVeigh, known as the "Oklahoma City bomber," and anti-Semitic slogans. Some featured still photographs of dead bodies and people firing guns.
One member of the group wrote this entry on his or her profile page: "Just another white prophet spreading white pride. Formerly (deleted) that was apparently banned for spreading racial realism, and the truth of white pride. I guess some people just 'can't handle the truth.' Back with a vengeance, hope to spread the message even further."
The user uploaded videos to YouTube with such titles as "Multicultural Nightmare," "Secure the Existence of the White Race," and "White Pride." None of these clips apparently violate YouTube's terms-of-use agreement, which bans "pornography, obscene or defamatory material."
To many, such materials are hate speech and should be removed. To others, removing them is censorship. Palfrey said he fully supports free speech, but as someone who helps run a blog network at Harvard, he frequently strikes material that he considers inappropriate.
He thinks the YouTube community, like any other, must adopt social norms that govern how people act.
Baumer concurs, but believes it should be left up to the YouTube community to decide what's appropriate. She said there are ample signs the community will make smart decisions.
Shortly after the shootings, dozens of people began logging on to the profile page of someone calling themselves NietzscheanSpirit, who had voiced support for Sturmgeist89's views, Baumer said. Most of the people who commented condemned both.
A search for NietzscheanSpirit's profile on Thursday showed that it had been closed by the account holder.
"I think there should be more of a dialogue between YouTubers," Baumer said. "Who at YouTube is going to make the decisions about what is appropriate? YouTube is not just a company but also a community of users. And they should be allowed to negotiate criteria for censorship."
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