On May 1, YouTube terminated all of South Front’s channels, with approximately 170,000 subscribers. The main YouTube channel in English had over 152,000 subscribers, 1,900 uploaded videos and approximately 60 million views. The termination of our channels occurred without any warnings or notifications and regardless of the fact that our YouTube channels had zero active strikes.
We immediately appealed this decision and during the next weeks repeatedly requested YouTube to explain reasons behind it. However, no answers were provided.
On June 10, SouthFront made a next step regarding this situation sending complaints to the US Federal Communications Commission as an organization and its leadership.
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554
Dear Sir/ Ma’am,
We, the international team of authors from 12 countries that works under the brand of SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence, have faced a termination of our YouTube channel on May 2: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaV101EM1QayFkP0E7zwXCg. Our YouTube channel had over 152,000 subscribers, 1,900 uploaded videos and approximately 60 million views.
The termination of our channel occurred regardless of the fact that our YouTube channel had zero active strikes. Covering conflicts in numerous international conflict zones, we expressly understand the inherent sensitivity of the issues under discussion. Therefore, we have strictly followed YouTube’s Community Guidelines and have always complied with the Terms of Service. Before being uploaded on YouTube, each of our videos were meticulously reviewed in order to ensure compliance with YouTube’s policies.
Over the past few years, SouthFront’s YouTube channels and videos have repeatedly been mass flagged. In every case, YouTube dealt with the unreasonable situation and restored our videos. Currently we are faced with direct and unprecedented censorship by YouTube itself. Wholesale termination of our channels is a blatant, hostile action against freedom of speech.
We have yet to receive any explanation or response to our numerous appeals. Moreover, ordinary YouTube specialists who surveyed our appeal in the early stage expressed surprise at the actions of their own management, since they themselves did not find any violations on our part. They further stated that more time was needed to investigate the problem. After some time, all contacts with us were ceased.
We can only explain the punitive actions described above as the politically motivated actions of the company’s upper management, either carried out for their own, or an allied parties’ political advantage. We can state, with all responsibility, that SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence is an independent international group of authors that is not linked with any state or corporation. We have always been guided by the principles of freedom of speech and pluralism of opinions. Our informational platforms are always open to different authors expressing a multitude of political views and points of view. We are ready to provide all the needed evidence required to support the validity of our claims.
We are ready and motivated to take all necessary legal action to restore justice, to protect the universal, democratic concept of freedom of speech, and to protect the right to open discussion. These are essential rights in any modern democracy or constitutional republic. We request that you investigate our case, and further ask that the FCC take all needed measures to halt this assault on democratic principles and fundamental human rights and freedoms.
We are demanding that YouTube restore our channels immediately and are prepared to address this denial of service, and our legally protected right to free speech in a court of all. We appreciate your attention to this matter and any aid that the FCC might provide us to ensure that censorship is not allowed in our free society. (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaV101EM1QayFkP0E7zwXCg).
SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence
The answer that we received from the Federal Communications Commission:
Immediately after SouthFront’s complaint to the Federal Communications Commission, YouTube became anxious.
YouTube Partner Support sent a response de-facto saying that YouTube will not restore SouthFront channels because SouthFront has sent a compliant to the Federal Communications Commission and is going to defend its rights.
At the same time, YouTube Legal Team sent a formal reply that includes a direct lie:
“The YouTube Community flagged one or more of your videos as inappropriate. Flagged content is not automatically taken down by the flagging system. After review, the YouTube team has found that one or more of your videos violate our Community Guidelines.”
This is untrue. Please, re-check this. There was zero Community Guideline strikes on our channel as of May 1. This was confirmed by YouTube Support Team. The screenshot is attached.
“Please take some time to learn about YouTube’s Community Guidelines and how they are enforced.”
We, members of SouthFront Team, have repeatedly informed YouTube Support Team that we have learnt about YouTube’s Community Guidelines in details. Covering conflicts in the Middle East, we expressly understand the inherent sensitivity of the issue. Therefore, we have strictly followed YouTube’s Community Guidelines and have always complied with the Terms of Service.
“If you think a Community Guidelines strike was applied to your account in error, you can appeal it.”
We made an appeal over a month ago. So far, we have received no answer.
The current situation is a result of either an example of unfair actions by YouTube or a deception of YouTube Team by a third party.
We once again ask you to conduct a detailed investigation of this situation and restore justice. In this case, we are ready to withdraw our complaints.
We eagerly await the further development of the situation.
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SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence Team