YouTube took down multiple videos from a human rights organization’s channel working to expose China’s human rights abuses according to an exclusive report from Reuters. The video publishing platform claimed the videos violating their guidelines against “cyberbullying and harassment.”
Atajurt Kazakh Human Rights’ channel was working to uncover and document the widespread human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang province and has published nearly 11,000 videos with over 120 million views since 2017 on the Google-owned platform.
Thousands of these videos “feature people speaking to camera about relatives they say have disappeared without a trace in China’s Xinjiang region,” Reutersreported, “where UN experts and rights groups estimate over a million people have been detained in recent years.”
“On June 15, the channel was blocked for violating YouTube’s guidelines, according to a screenshot seen by Reuters, after twelve of its videos had been reported for breaching its ‘cyberbullying and harassment’ policy,” the report continued. “The channel’s administrators had appealed the blocking of all twelve videos between April and June, with some reinstated — but YouTube did not provide an explanation as to why others were kept out of public view, the administrators told Reuters.”
According to Reuters, the outlet contacted YouTube to investigate the decision. YouTube then restored the account on June 18, “explaining that it had received multiple so-called ‘strikes’ for videos which contained people holding up ID cards to prove they were related to the missing, violating a YouTube policy which prohibits personally identifiable information from appearing in its content.”
YouTube had reportedly requested that the IDs be blurred, with Atajurt reluctant to do so, “concerned that doing so would jeopardize the trustworthiness of the videos.”
Following YouTube’s actions, the human rights group has decided to back up its video content to Odysee, “ a website built on a blockchain protocol called LBRY, designed to give creators more control.”
“There is another excuse every day. I never trusted YouTube,” Serikzhan Bilash, one of Atajurt’s founders, told Reuters in a phone interview. “But we’re not afraid anymore, because we are backing ourselves up with LBRY. The most important thing is our material’s safety.”