I made an alarming potential discovery today while watching The Young Turks on YouTube. Preceding the video I wished to view was an ad by a company called “Reputation.Com“, which specializes in polishing people and organization’s online footprint. If there is information on the web about you or your company that are embarrassing or that, for whatever reason, you wish not to be accessible to those who may look you up online, they will work to remove it from the Net, possibly replacing it with more favourable information. It’s online information and impression management. While this service can definitely offer many morally upstanding results, it can also offer the opposite. Hence, I attempted to post the following comment in the video comments section:
“Regarding the “Reputation.Com” ad preceding the video: that service will SO be used for dishonest, cynical purposes.”
I tried several times to post this comment, each time receiving the following message: “Error, try again“. Wanting to test whether there was a problem with YouTube commenting in general or with this particular type of comment, I attempted to post a few comments unrelated to the advertiser (e.g., “Testing” and “Romney is not to be trusted. Ever.”) Both went through without a hitch. I then tried my initial comment regarding Reputation.Com again two more times. Again, it was “Error, try again“.
Here is a screenshot of my efforts (my YouTube name is uoftron):
It would appear that YouTube is censoring comments about its advertisers.
How fitting it is that this discovery is made with regard to a company whose very service is about determining what sorts of views and information can be shared online about people and organizations in its trust.
But don’t trust me. Try it yourself. Go to YouTube and try posting comments on advertisements that immediately precede videos that you are trying to watch. Also try leaving comments unrelated to the ads. Do you get different results for the two types of comments?
Leave a comment below on your results. Don’t worry – I won’t pull a YouTube and censor your comments*.
* Privacy-invading comments excepted.
Here is the video in which I discovered this situation:
Some readers offered some potential alternative explanations, e.g., that YouTube has anti-spam comment blockers that block all comments containing weblinks. Consequently, I attempted to post comments containing various links or link-like features, including:
All of these posts were completed successfully, while Reputation.Com continues to be blocked.
Is YouTube censoring comments about its advertisers? Sure looks like it.