YouTube hides The Atlantic’s coverage of “Heil Trump” salutes at Nazi speech

The Atlantic’s video coverage of Nazi salutes at a Trump rally was removed from YouTube’s search results under its hate-speech policy. It reinstated the video after the magazine noticed and complained.

“Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” said the leader, Richard B. Spencer. Attendees in the room replied with shouts, applause, and Nazi salutes… Specifically, YouTube removed the video of Spencer’s speech from all public search results on its site and made it much more difficult to access overall. The YouTube video was only accessible during this period by clicking a direct link or by first finding The Atlantic’s user page, then locating the video in a menu. (The video was still indexed by Google, YouTube’s parent company.)

This delisting accompanied a broader change in status for the video. When it removed the video from search, YouTube also closed comments on the video, hid social-media share buttons on the page, and did not provide a way for users to embed the video on another page. In a message below the video, YouTube said it had “disabled some features” of the video.

Anger at this is good and proper, but remember that private platforms can’t guarantee you free speech even if they think they want to. So instead of getting mired in that particular abstract tar pit, today, demand that YouTube consistently enforce reasonable community standards with a long-term human commitment, instead of treating all this stuff as something nerds can solve with algorithms in service of short-term PR goals.