It appears Youtube has joined the ranks of Facebook, Google, and Twitter with unnecessary censorship of crypto-related content. Over the past few days, several cryptocurrency Youtube channels have had a barrage of strange policies applied to them, with some losing subscribers, having videos deleted or given warnings and temporary bans.
The reason for the crackdown is immediately apparent but seems likely to follow a similar narrative used by Facebook when it banned cryptocurrency-related advertising early last year. While Facebook enacted the ban in an effort the curb damaging or scam advertisements, it doesn’t seem to make sense why Youtube would block informational crypto videos.
Last month a botnet called Stantinko was discovered to be spreading via linked text in Youtube video descriptions, however, it’s unclear if this prompted the new Youtube restrictions. The Stantinki botnet was found to have infected possibly as much as half a million computers in Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. After infection, the botnet uses the computer’s resources to mine Monero (XMR), one of the most common cryptocurrencies used by crypto-jacking malware.
A move to decentralization?
The new bans by Youtube have resurfaced talks of channel creators moving to a decentralized platform that would be immune to censorship. Platforms like PeetTube or DTube are hosted on decentralized blockchain-based systems but have struggled to compete with the popular web media giant.
Twitter is one major platform that has begun considering a migration to a decentralized system in order to circumnavigate over-bearing content restrictions. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey noted the plan in a tweet earlier this month saying:
“Twitter is funding a small independent team  to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media. The goal is for Twitter to ultimately be a client of this standard.”
He went on to note how blockchain has helped to make decentralized solutions possible and create avenues for more “open and durable hosting, governance, and even monetization”.
Some crypto Youtubers that have had their channels affected include Node Investor, Chris Dunn, Chico Crypto, Ivan on Tech and Crypto Tips. Many have simply received warnings for their involvement in crypto-related businesses but others have had more severe punishments like having videos removed for “harmful and dangerous content”. Exactly what content Youtube is referring to and whether or not it truly is “damaging and harmful” is unclear but one would imagine these are simply sweeping restrictions rather than logical ones.
Hopefully, the bans are temporary and after a more thoughtful review, Youtube will reverse the decisions and reconfigure their algorithms. Blocking content that attempts to market illegal ICOs is one thing but outright blocking all crypto-related content is a slippery slope reminiscent of Chinese-style media censorship.