A progressive watchdog group’s YouTube account was reinstated after it was banned and its videos were deleted

A cartoon monkey holding a magnifying glass indicates a YouTube account no longer exists.
Left-wing media watchdog Right Wing Watch’s YouTube account was permanently suspended but later restored.

  • Right Wing Watch, a left-wing watchdog group, was permanently supsended from YouTube, it announced via Twitter.
  • The group is a project of the progressive nonprofit organization People For the American Way.
  • Hours after it announced its ban and a subsequent appeal was denied, the channel was restored.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The left-wing watchdog group Right Wing Watch was permanently suspended from uploading videos to YouTube, the organization said Monday, but hours later, YouTube restored the channel to the platform.

Right Wing Watch is a project of the progressive nonprofit organization People For the American Way and is “dedicated to monitoring and exposing the activities and rhetoric of right-wing activists and organizations in order to expose their extreme agenda,” according to its website.

Kyle Mantyla, a senior fellow at Right Wing Watch, confirmed to Insider that the Right Wing Watch YouTube channel was banned last Monday. He said the organization quickly appealed the ban, which followed its third strike for violating the platform’s community guidelines since April.

“Right Wing Watch’s YouTube channel was mistakenly suspended, but upon further review, has now been reinstated,” a YouTube spokesperson told Insider.

The reversal followed a backlash on social media and reporting from outlets including NBC News and The Daily Beast.

YouTube rejected the appeal Monday, he said, and the account and its content were permanently deleted from the platform, destroying a years-long catalog of claims made by right-wing figures the organization had uploaded, he said.

But hours after the group went public about its ban on Twitter, the channel reappeared around 4 p.m. Monday.

“Starting late last year when YouTube and all the other social-media platforms started clamping down on COVID misinformation and election fraud claims, a lot of our videos kept getting flagged for violating those even though we were trying to expose the people who are spreading disinformation,” he told Insider.

Mantyla said Right Wing Watch used its YouTube channel to upload video clips from other media, including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, from religious figures and other right-wing activists so they could embed the clips on their blog to debunk them or add commentary. All videos included a disclaimer at the start and a link to the blog post that added the organization’s own commentary, Mantyla said.

Mantyla said Right Wing Watch had stopped posting to YouTube in April when it received two strikes for violating the Google-owned platform’s community guidelines for posting misinformation related to the 2020 election because it feared receiving a third strike. The two strikes were set to last 90 days, and the first was set to expire at the beginning of July, Mantyla said.

But days before the strike could expire, the YouTube channel was hit with another strike for a video it uploaded eight years ago, he said. That video included anti-gay comments made by Christian radio host Bryan Fischer, according to the 2013 blog post that accompanied the video.

The two strikes it received in April related to a video of QAnon conspiracy theorist Johnny Enlow and a video of self-proclaimed prophet Pastor Hank Kunneman. The video of Enlow was taken from another YouTube video that remains uploaded to the platform, despite it being one of the videos that caused Right Wing Watch’s channel to receive a strike in April.

Mantyla told Insider that another one of its videos was flagged for violating community guidelines as soon as YouTube restored its account Monday afternoon.

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Facebook’s ‘Supreme Court’ that has the power to overrule Mark Zuckerberg just handed down its first decisions – these are the Oversight Board’s first 20 members

Mark Zuckerberg at Georgetown University
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

  • In late 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced an ambitious plan: to create an independent oversight board.
  • The board can overrule Facebook’s content moderation guidelines, and can even overrule Zuckerberg.
  • Last week, the group made its first rulings on disputed content. It overturned 4 out of the 5 cases it saw.
  • The board consists of 20 people, including a former prime minister, a Nobel laureate, and human rights experts.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

With more than 2 billion users, Facebook has a major content moderation problem on its hands.

Whether you’re talking about the platform’s use by Russian government-backed trolls in the 2016 US Presidential election, or to spread propaganda during the 2016 Rohingya genocide, or when a shooter livestreamed a mass shooting in New Zealand, Facebook has faced moderation issue after moderation issue across the past few years.

And the company is well aware of the enormity of its problem. “One of the most painful lessons I’ve learned,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in late 2018, “is that when you connect two billion people, you will see all the beauty and ugliness of humanity.” 

Read more: How Silicon Valley banished Donald Trump in 48 hours

As a result, Facebook established an oversight board that it says is outside of Facebook’s control, that can ultimately overrule Facebook’s own policies on content management. The company has even pledged $130 million to get the board funded and operational. It launched in 2020, and made it first rulings this past week.

The board will eventually swell to nearly double its current size, Facebook says, but these are the inaugural 20 members:

1. Tawakkol Karman

Tawakkol Karman
Journalist and Nobel laureate.

Tawakkol Karman is, “a journalist, civil rights activist and Nobel laureate.” She’s also the first Arab woman to win a Nobel prize, and is the co-founder of Women Journalists Without Chains. She was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her leadership of peaceful protests during the Arab Spring. 

2. Maina Kiai

Maina Kiai
Director, Human Rights Watch Global Alliances and Partnerships

Maina Kiai served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Assembly and Association, and currently leads the Global Alliances and Partnerships at Human Rights Watch. He’s known for his work in human rights, particularly through the medium of documentary film. 

3. Evelyn Aswad

Evelyn Aswad
Professor and Chair, University of Oklahoma College of Law

Evenlyn Aswad is a law professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law and the director of the school’s Center for International Business and Human Rights. Prior to education, Aswad worked for the US Department of State and served as a law clerk on the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. 

4. Endy Bayuni

Endy Bayuni

Endy Baynui is a staffer and board member at The Jakarta Post; he’s been a journalist for over three decades, primarily focused on national politics and Islam, and serves as the executive director of the International Association of Religion Journalists. 

5. Pamela Karlan

Pamela Karlan
Professor, Stanford Law School

Pamela Karlan is a professor at Stanford Law School, and serves as co-director to Stanford’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic. The focus of Karlan’s career has been voting and its application to the American political process. She began her career as a law clerk on the US Supreme Court and US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

6. Nighat Dad

Nighat Dad
Founder, Digital Rights Foundation

Nighat Dad is a lawyer and co-founder of Digital Rights Foundation — a non-profit that focuses on “cyber harassment, data protection and free speech online in Pakistan and South Asia.” She is an outspoken feminist known for her focus on women’s right in Pakistan, where she is from.

7. Emi Palmor

Emi Palmor
Advocate and Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Israel

Emi Palmor is an Israeli lawyer and professor, and served as the Director General of the Ministry of Justice for five years. Her career has focused on anti-racism efforts, and she currently lectures on policy design, governance, and law at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.

8. John Samples

John Samples, Cato Institute
VP, Cato Institute

John Samples serves as a VP at the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank founded by the Koch brothers. Samples focuses on free speech, the First Amendment, content moderation; to that end, he’s written several books on those subjects, including “The Struggle to Limit Government: A Modern Political History,” and “The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform.”

9. Catalina Botero-Marino

Catalina Botero-Marino
Dean, Law School at Universidad de Los Andes

Catalina Botero-Marino is a lawyer and dean of the Law School at Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia. Her career has focused on freedom of expression and human rights.

10. Michael McConnell

Michael McConnell
Professor and Director of the Constitutional Law Center, Stanford Law School

Michael McConnell serves as director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School. He also teaches he teaches a course on freedom of speech, press, and religion, and served for seven years as a circuit judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. McConnell began his career as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, Jr., and has argued 15 cases in the US Supreme Court.

11. Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei

Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei
Program Manager, Open Society Initiative for West Africa

Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei is a human rights lawyer whose career focuses on “supporting and developing transformational social programs and advocacy strategies,” primarily on her home continent of Africa.

12. Ronaldo Lemos

Ronaldo Lemos
Professor, Rio de Janeiro State University’s Law School

Ronaldo Lemos is a lawyer who focuses on “technology, intellectual property, media and public policy.” Lemos is a partner at the Brazilian law firm PNM Advogados, a visiting scholar at several prominent universities, and the co-creator of the Brazilian Internet Bill of Rights.

13. András Sajó

Andras Sajo
Founding Dean of Legal Studies, Central European University

Andras Sajo is a former judge and vice president at the European Court of Human Rights, professor Central European University, and a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He served as advisor on three separate constitutions: Ukraine, Georgia, and South Africa.

14. Sudhir Krishnaswamy

Sudhir Krishnaswamy
Vice Chancellor and Professor of Law, National Law School of India University

Dr. Sudhir Krishnaswamy is a law professor and serves as vice chancellor at the National Law School of India University, as well as the the secretary and rreasurer of the Consortium of National Law Universities of India. He focuses on public interest law, and is the author of “Democracy and Constitutionalism in India.”

15. Katherine Chen

Katherine Chen
Professor, National Chengchi University

Katherine Chen is a communications professor at National Chengchi University (NCCU), Taiwan. She previously served as the commissioner of the National Communications Commission of Taiwan, and is a published academic researcher whose work primarily focused on “media content and its effects, social media in elections, as well as mobile communication and privacy.”

16. Helle Thorning-Schmidt

Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt is pictured in Copenhagen, Denmark, early June 19, 2015.  REUTERS/Bax Lindhardt/Scanpix Denmark
Former Prime Minister, Denmark

Helle Thorning-Schmidt is the former prime minister of Denmark, from 2011 to 2015, and currently serves as a member of a variety of foreigh policy think tanks: the US Council on Foreign Relations, the European Council for Foreign Relations, the International Crisis Group and the Atlantic Council International Advisory Board and Berggruen 21st Century Council.

17. Nicolas Suzor

Nicolas Suzor
Professor, School of Law at Queensland University of Technology

Nicolas Suzor is a law professor at Queensland University of Technology, and a member of the leadership at the school’s Digital Media Research Centre. His research focuses on, “the governance of the internet and social networks, the regulation of automated systems, digital copyright, and knowledge commons.”

18. Julie Owono

Julie Owono
Executive Director, Internet Sans Frontières

Julie Owono is executive director of Internet Sans Frontières, an open internet advocacy group. Her work primarily focuses on digital rights and expanding internet access. She is a self-professed, “advocate for Business and Human Rights principles in the technology industry.”

19. Alan Rusbridger

Alan Rusbridger
Principal, Lady Margaret Hall Oxford

Alan Charles Rusbridger is the Principal at Lady Margaret Hall, and former Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian, where he led the publication from 1995 to 2015. He earned a Pulitzer Prize in 2014 for public service, and, beyond his work in journalism, is the author of several children’s books.

20. Jamal Greene

Jamal Greene
Professor, Columbia Law School

Jamal Greene is a law professor at Columbia Law School. He’s taught classes on a variety of legal subjects, from constitutional law to the American federal courts. Before entering academia professionally, Greene served as a law clerk on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and on the US Supreme Court.

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Pornhub purges millions of unverified videos amid allegation of hosting child pornography

Pornhub, a popular pornography site, is one of the most visited websites in the US.

  • The popular pornography website Pornhub is deleting all unverified content on its platform, the company announced on Monday.
  • “As part of our policy to ban unverified uploaders, we have now also suspended all previously uploaded content that was not created by content partners or members of the Model Program,” the company said
  • It’s the latest response from Pornhub following a New York Times column that accused the company of hosting child pornography and other illegal content, like videos filmed without the consent of those featured. 
  • Both Visa and Mastercard have pulled their charging services from Pornhub, and Pornhub has announced plans to verify all the content on its platform.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Pornhub is purging all unverified videos from its platform – the latest move in an ongoing response to accusations that the popular pornography website hosts child pornography.

“As part of our policy to ban unverified uploaders, we have now also suspended all previously uploaded content that was not created by content partners or members of the Model Program,” the company said in a blog post on Monday morning. “This means every piece of Pornhub content is from verified uploaders, a requirement that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter have yet to institute.”

The company did not confirm how many videos were removed from the site, but Motherboard, which first reported the news, notes that the number of videos visible on Pornhub’s search function went from 13.5 million to 4.7 million on Monday morning. 

Pornhub previously operated like YouTube, but with a focus on pornography, where anyone could upload a video to the service.

In a column written by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times, Kristof described videos on Pornhub that he said were recordings of assaults on unconscious women and girls.

“The issue is not pornography but rape. Let’s agree that promoting assaults on children or on anyone without consent is unconscionable,” Kristof wrote on December 4.

The column called for Visa and Mastercard, two credit card companies that Pornhub works with, to stop working with the company. One week later, both companies officially ended their relationships with Pornhub.

Pornhub and its parent company Mindgeek have denied the allegations in the Times. The company told Business Insider it employs a “vast team of human moderators” who manually review “every single upload,” as well as automated detection technologies. It did not say how many people were part of its review team.

“Pornhub has actively worked to employ extensive measures to protect the platform from such content,” a Pornhub representative told Business Insider. “These measures include a vast team of human moderators dedicated to manually reviewing every single upload, a thorough system for flagging, reviewing and removing illegal material, robust parental controls, and a variety of automated detection technologies.” Those technologies, it said, include tools created by YouTube, Google, and Microsoft that are intended to combat child pornography and sexual abuse imagery.

Following the Times report, Pornhub announced stricter guidelines on who can publish videos and what videos are allowed to be published: Only accounts which Pornhub verifies will be allowed to publish content. Monday’s announcement takes that one step further, and purges Pornhub of all previously unverified content. 

It’s unclear how many videos are being deleted from the service, and representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment as of publishing.

Got a tip? Contact Business Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@businessinsider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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