Happy Slapping Hits Panorama – Follow Up

A couple of weeks back I highlighted the problem of videos of violent real-life incidents being uploaded to YouTube and other far more insalubrious and exploitative video sharing sites.

It was only a matter of time before Members of Parliament started to call for a banning of these videos and this happened today, as reported by Alex Farber in the NMA. The catalyst in this case was the gangland style murder by shooting of an 11 year old kid in Liverpool, England.

While the MP’s reaction is trite and opportunistic – the connection with violence and videos, just like violent PC games, has never been proven – most civilised people would agree that making this stuff available is wrong and certainly adds to the criminals’ enjoyment, otherwise, why post them in the first place?

It’s interesting at this point to see Google sticking to its line of “the site was not controlled by Google and not censored” – in other words, it’s policed by the community and they don’t (or won’t) moderate content. I can’t see that being a sustainable policy for much longer.

Of course, YouTube is the mostly respectable face of video sharing, with the odd bit of violence getting posted from time to time. It’s going to make it much harder for sites to survive who encourage and live off this stuff. If they have to moderate according to some kind of guidelines, it’s going to be an end to their business models. Good.

But it would be much better if this kind of thing was self-regulated, rather than involving bureaucrats developing impractical policies over many years. Someone from the industry really should be showing some leadership and stop hoping that this issue is going to go away.

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