27 November 2007

et tu, YouTube?

I've written multiple times about the serious disconnect when it comes to evaluating content at Facebook - breastfeeding pics no, but pro-anorexia groups yes - and many elite thinkers in social media have had plenty to say about Facebook's brain cramp about Facebook Beacon. So I wasn't surprised to learn that the folks at Facebook have ignored so many questions and complaints from women on these issues. But YouTube?

It was gratifying to watch moms who write online organize under the banner of the League of Maternal Justice and shake things up a little bit - letting Facebook and the rest of the world know that feeding your baby isn't a sexual act and standing up for the rights of moms everywhere. They created a video montage that effectively expressed the righteous anger so many moms felt when they learned about Facebook's ridiculous decision, and celebrated the "super power" of breastfeeding. The video literally got thousands of people talking - it was one of the five most-discussed videos on YouTube shortly after it debuted there.

I was so disappointed and confused by YouTube's decision to ban the video. There is absolutely, positively NOTHING inappropriate or obscene whatsoever about feeding a baby - or showing someone feeding their baby. There are dozens of laws in dozens of US states and Canadian provinces (not to mention European nations) that say as much. And that's all the video montage shows. Breastfeeding needs to be promoted, not described as "inappropriate." YouTube has done a real disservice here.

And the moms are right to show how the disconnect that existed at Facebook exists on YouTube as well. Despite its outright ban of a video that could probably air on Sesame Street without a problem, YouTube hosts thousands of videos that advertise porn sites, show gratuitous violence, and - once again - offer "thinspiration" for young women with anorexia. Many of these videos aren't even tagged as "adult."

I know the system at YouTube and Facebook is inherently flawed but probably the best they can do right now. Someone flags a video or picture and then someone working for the company looks at it and makes a judgement call based on a terms of use policy. But unless there's some information beyond what's publicly available here, both Facebook and Youtube clearly got it wrong. What's worse, they're not willing to explain why they made the decisions they did.

This is not what you call a smart long-term business strategy. These companies need to take a look at who's on their sites most. Facebook users skew female and tend to be more liberal than conservative. That doesn't sound like a "breastfeeding is icky" crowd to me. Nearly all of the most-visited websites on the Internet - i.e., the ones with the most potential ad revenue - are visited more often by women than men.

History is littered with the remains of companies that had a few good ideas but stopped listening to the communities they serve. Facebook and YouTube, Ignore these women at your own peril.


Susan Getgood said...

So, I know folks will probably say,here's Getgood again with the woman thing, but what the fuck.

The fact that these "new media" darlings, Facebook and YouTube have a problem understanding that breastfeeding is not sexual is a symptom of a larger societal problem.

Succinctly, we may have come a long way baby, but not near far enough.I wish it weren't so, but sadly, it is still true: we live in a white man's world.

I could go on about this forever, and sometimes do on my blog, but I'll spare you. This time. But episodes like this are exactly why I keep banging the gender drum.

mothergoosemouse said...

Thanks David.

PunditMom said...

Soon enough they'll get the message, but not until it hurts them at the bottom line. How we do that, I"m not sure, other than lobbying advertisers.

Michelle said...

You know, all it takes is a little common sense to determine that a video is or is not indecent. Besides, why take a stand against breastfeeding when they obviously haven't taken a stand against porn, tits, or visible asscracks?

The people who have a problem with breastfeeders usually fall into one of four categories:

(1)Women who didn't BF and feel guilty so they act out their guilt on the women they see BF in public.
(2)Men who don't have kids or men whose wives fall into category (1).
(3)People who get horny at the sight and thought of a nursing woman and child and worry that they can't control themselves so they lash out and blame the innocent.
(4)People who have seriously demented issues about the human body, infant and child care, or women in general.

They should all have their faces slapped.

Lawyer Mama said...

I agree with Susan. It's a societal problem. Hell, after I wrote about this my MOM emailed me to chastise me that breast exposure is just not done in OUR society and we should just accept it. GAH!

Only by rebelling, making noise, and maybe making some more legislation will we gradually change the way society thinks. Boo on YouTube.