While some YouTubers unwind at the end of the day by watching Star Wars spoofs or clips of dogs wearing Halloween costumes, others are getting wound up by viewing inflammatory videos. We're talking about alt-right vlogs where divisive commentators make outrageous claims, like saying Islam is an inherently extremist religion, that white people are on the brink of extinction, or that Hillary Clinton's into occult cooking recipes (seriously).
And they can get away with all of that because YouTube operates without the normal checks and balances developed for broadcasters.
"Unlike Fox News or talk radio, YouTubers don't require broadcast licenses, so they're immune to FCC rules prohibiting them from distributing obscene or false information," Carlos Maza of Vox noted.
On top of that, advertisers are unable to rein in YouTube channels as they do with mainstream media outlets.
"Normally the check on this kind of garbage would be advertisers," Maza added. "Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh can be jerks all they want, but at the end of the day, their bosses have to worry about corporations freaking out and pulling their ads. But YouTube is different. Advertisers don't know what videos their ads are gonna show up on. For the most part, YouTube manages that relationship, assigning ads to videos and managing that relationship and paying creators accordingly."
And that's great according to vloggers like Canada's Lauren Southern, who sees YouTube as a bastion of right-wing thinking in a media landscape that is dominated by liberals. "For left-wing content, you can get that in real life," she noted. "From your professors, your teachers, your newspapers. Left-wingers don't need to go to the dark places of the internet to find their opinions, whereas right-wingers do. YouTube has kinda become this outlet and this way to communicate with people you agree with."
But those advertisers aren't happy about that. And you'd probably be upset too. Imagine your ad for wholesome chicken soup came up right before a vlog teaching white supremacists how to get their klan hoods their whitest. Yeah, you'd be pretty upset...and also suspicious of anyone buying Costco-sized bottles of bleach.
So the advertisers want regulation, but that's easier said than done, according to Maza. "[T]here's really no good way to regulate this stuff," he noted. "YouTube sees about 400 hours of videos uploaded every minute. It's impossible to monitor that much content with precision."
And their efforts so far have incensed moderate political commentators as well as alt-right vloggers. Find out why in this clip.