Why Did YouTube Restrict Chelsea Manning’s Senate Campaign Video?

Here we go again

YouTube has, once again, done a not-so-good thing. Despite there being no nudity or sexually explicit material, Chelsea Manning's Senate campaign video was, reportedly, deemed inappropriate and, for a brief period of time, placed behind an age-restricted wall.

Screenshot via Pink News.

It's funny (or is it?) considering Logan Paul's video showing an alleged dead body hanging from a tree in Japan's Aokigahara forest was not taken down or restricted in such a way by the video sharing platform; Paul himself deleted it after roaring backlash ensued. What about a dead body is more appropriate than scenes of protest and white supremacism, like Manning's video shows? I don't know, and YouTube has yet to make a comment on the matter. They did, however, quietly lift the restriction as we were writing this.

Regardless, Manning's video was restricted for reasons that could possibly have fallen under YouTube's "hateful, harmful or if it is violent or dangerous" category, but then that would mean news clips showing Black Lives Matter protests and the violence down in North Carolina following a car driving into a crowd of peaceful protesters would also have been restricted. They were not. Something doesn't add up here.

Manning's video does not seem to violate any of YouTube's terms, further confirmed by the fact that the restriction was lifted. It does call for action, resistance, and "[taking] the reigns of power" back. How that is inappropriate for some YouTube viewers and Paul's obscenely racist and disrespectful content is not, is beyond me—especially considering this is not the first time YouTube has restricted harmless videos.

Just last summer, YouTube began restricting LGBTQIA-oriented videos. An outpouring from queer and queer ally YouTube creators, in addition to widespread media coverage, prompted the company to right the supposed engineering issue. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said, following the controversy, there is a strict training program for reviewers to flag inappropriate content. And yet, here we are, wondering what was so wrong about showing protest imagery that gets blasted across major news outlets in a campaign video for Manning, a beacon of speaking truth to power. 

The irony is not lost on us.