YouTube and Politics I

This is the first of a series of articles co-written by D.J. Mitchell and Susan Cain on how YouTube is used in politics.  Susan has done most of the research.

YouTube, the free video sharing site offers an incredible medium for uploading and watching videos.  People love it as a free avenue for airing videos that would otherwise have little outlet.  (DJ has uploaded 37 videos so far.)  Some hope they’ll get their 15 minutes of fame.  Others crave the unlimited access to millions of professional and amateur music videos, comedy, political satire, and so forth.

We tried to get a factual idea as to how many videos are on YouTube as of today, the answer is: no one knows. There are no certified totals, only educated guesses. Thirty thousand videos are guesstimated to be uploaded per day.  One source says over a billion vids are watched each day.  A technology site says that a 2006 “Wall Street Journal” article reported that YouTube hosted 6 million videos. The article also states that in 2008, a YouTube search “returned more than 80 million videos and 3 million user channels.” So, it’s safe to say that the total number is currently well into 100 million videos.

YouTube is available to anyone who has an unfettered internet connection– worldwide.  So it’s no surprise that it has been used as a political tool.  Some countries block YouTube, or control what its citizens can watch.  Some of those use their YouTube channel to spread disinformation.  Here’s an example:

Susan has two Facebook friends living in a country where YouTube is banned. The government of that country does not particularly like the USA, especially its policies concerning Palestine. That government posted a YouTube video (embedded above) on its”legal” channel, showing an American musician performing a pro-Palestinian song he had written.  According to both of these Arabic speaking friends, the government channel claimed that the video had been banned in the United States. The clear implication was that our government bans any media here that is pro-Palestinian; that we forbid our people to be anything but pro-Israel.

Citizens of that country can’t verify whether what their government tells them is true, because they can’t access YouTube.  They were shocked to learn from Susan that what they’ve been told is not the truth.


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