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It’s more likely that the community objected to an exploding rabbit in Herman Cain’s video than it is that anyone censored him.
According to former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, he was censored briefly by YouTube on Monday.
On Sunday, Cain’s campaign uploaded a video of a rabbit getting launched off the ground and then exploding, after taking a rifle round in mid-air. The rabbit represents “small business under the current tax code,” says a blonde little girl in the ad.
Within 24 hours, the video was removed from the Google-owned site. Herman Cain tweeted a screenshot of the video take down, with the words “This is free speech, this is free speech under YouTube. I have questions!”
The screenshot of the removed video clearly displays that the YouTube community flagged his video as “inappropriate.” YouTube never removes videos on its own. Rather, it relies on the community to flag content that violates YouTube’s Terms of Service.
YouTubers obviously flagged Cain’s ad as violating YouTube’s community guidelines because of the violent death of the rabbit in the 37 second clip. YouTube’s community guidelines explicitly state to not “post videos showing bad stuff like animal abuse.”
While most adult viewers probably would surmise that the shooting is fake, it’s highly plausible that the many young people in YouTube’s audience were disturbed by what they saw as the death of an animal on a widely accessible Internet video.
YouTube restored the video in record time without commenting on the depiction of animal violence, possibly to dissuade headlines of censorship. A YouTube rep told Buzzfeed they found “nothing wrong with the video.” The restoration prompted Herman Cain to snarkily tweet “I guess I’m back from my “#YouTube time-out.”
Cain did not apologize for his offensive ad, which could easily be mistaken as animal cruelty, or his false implication that the Google-owned company was censoring him. As the Atlantic Wire pointed out, this isn’t the first time Cain has portrayed animal cruelty in his campaign ads and suggests that animal suffering may be his schtick.
Cain is not the first person to misunderstand YouTube’s reliance on community policing. When the media outlet Russia Today’s channel was taken down due to community flagging, possibly by angry protesters, conspiracy-addict Alex Jones called it “corporate censorship.”
Over the weekend, various media outlets made a big stink about YouTube adding an age restriction to Madonna’s new music video because it shows scenes of masturbation and nudity. Clearly, concerned kids and parents flagged the video; YouTube was reacting to its user base, not critiquing Madonna as some outlets purport.
Hacking collective Anonymous also threatened to attack YouTube employees on Sunday, after one of its channel was blocked for a couple of hours due to the community flagging videos as inappropriate. That channel was also promptly restored.
Fruzsina Eördögh was the Daily Dot's first YouTube reporter. In addition to working as a producer for the now-defunct digital channel TouchVision TV, Eördögh has been published by Vice, the Christian Science Monitor, the Guardian, Variety, and Slate.