We live in the world of 24/7, in your face, here-and-now media. And whilst I am the first to admit that I take full advantage of all news media being offered to me, ashamedly even Perez Hilton, I also think that there has to be a breaking point. There needs to be a line drawn clearly in the sand that says, “stop here and do not cross.” But is there?
Take for instance YouTube. Again, I am a fan, but the most recent controversy surrounding the network is rather bothersome. If the fact that eight Florida teenagers beating their peer and rendering her unconscious wasn’t enough to catch my attention in the news, how about the fact that I could watch the whole entire “animalistic” fight on YouTube?
Was it for five minutes of fame? Was it to empower themselves? I can not even begin to fathom what thought process would go behind something like that attack but I do know that they received the attention they were so desperately seeking.
Revisiting my above statement, where is that media line? Although it is unclear who actually posted the beating onto YouTube, shouldn’t someone take the fall for allowing something as disturbing as this to be viewed over and over again? It is not as if YouTube stepped in and removed the video, or even as if we consumers said “enough is enough” and stopped viewing the horrific thing.
From a legal standpoint, YouTube and other online service providers are largely exempt from liability because of a 1996 anti-pornography law. One provision says Internet service providers are not considered publishers simply because they retransmit information provided by their users or other sources. Federal courts have applied that broadly to cover not just Internet access providers, but also video-sharing sites, message boards and other online services.
I understand that YouTube essentially has no obligation to be a traffic cop and that we all have the right to air whatever ‘dirty laundry’ we choose, but I think that at some point someone needs to be held responsible and if you are going to be that multi-million dollar company such as YouTube then you need to have standards.
By the way, 7 of the teenagers in the video are being charged as adults. Their bail is set at $30,000 a piece and they face charges of kidnapping, battery and witness tampering.
Interestingly enough, the Google-owned YouTube declined to comment on the aired attack and stated that its general policies call for the removal of clips that show someone getting hurt, attacked or humiliated. Hmm…. wouldn’t this fall under all three of those categories?
Now the million dollar question… Should YouTube and other video-media outlet sites be held responsible for making the decisions whether or not to air a video and determine if there are any legal ramifications associated with such? I honestly have to say that in this case I think YouTube was in bad taste and needs to re-examine it’s posting process.