Tony Abbott’s YouTube channel suspended over “deceptive content” complaints

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s YouTube account was temporarily suspended over the weekend, with one video pulled on the grounds it consisted of “commercially deceptive content”.

The complaints appear to have originated after a video titled A Message from the PM – Delivering on Our Promises, in which the Prime Minister talks about his government’s policies on the economy and border security, was flagged by users.

“From talking to people around our country, my sense is that confidence is returning. This year, the government will continue the good work we began in 2013 and we’ll do that by implementing our plan to build a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure future,” Abbott says in the video.

“We are honouring our commitments. Indeed, that will be the theme of this government this year. Honouring our commitments to scrap the carbon tax, to end the waste, to get the budget under control and to build the infrastructure of the 21st century.

“We’ve also made big progress in border protection. Not a single illegal boat has arrived since mid-December. January was the first full month since early 2009 that has gone without the arrival of a single illegal boat.

“Our policies are working and progress is being made.”

However, users attempting to watch the video over the weekend were greeted with an error message saying the video had been pulled because of “commercially deceptive content”.

“This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy on spam, scams and commercially deceptive content.”

According to YouTube’s community guidelines, the streaming video site reserves the right to suspend accounts used to send spam or misleading descriptions of video content.

“Everyone hates spam. Do not create misleading descriptions, tags, titles or thumbnails in order to increase views. It’s not okay to post large amounts of untargeted, unwanted or repetitive content, including comments and private messages.”

However, the community guidelines also explicitly state the streaming media respects the freedom of speech, with the exception of hate speech.

“We encourage free speech and defend everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view. But we don’t permit hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, sexual orientation/gender identity, or their status as a returned soldier).”

According to its community guidelines, flagged videos are not automatically removed from its system without a review.

“When a video gets flagged as inappropriate, we review the video to determine whether it violates our Terms of Use—flagged videos are not automatically taken down by the system. If we remove your video after reviewing it, you can assume that we removed it purposefully, and you should take our warning notification seriously.

“Take a deep breath, read our Terms of Use and try to see it from our perspective. If you find other videos on YouTube with the same violations, please flag them so we can review them as well!”

However, a YouTube spokesperson told SmartCompany acknowledged that videos are occasionally mistakenly taken down, and the streaming video site will quickly restore videos where appropriate.

“Occasionally, a video flagged by users is mistakenly taken down. When this is brought to our attention, we quickly review the content and take appropriate action, including restoring videos or channels that had been removed.”

The video and the channel have since been restored.

The federal government has not issued an official statement about the incident.


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