YouTube Shooting Incites Questions On Community Management

By Nitish Singh / April 5, 2018

Yesterday, YouTube experienced the first workplace shooting incident. The act was perpetrated by a 39-year-old woman named Nasim Aghdam. Reports cite that Aghdam left her home four days ago and on the day of the shooting, snuck into YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno, California. She was armed with a handgun and shot around three people before ultimately taking her own life.

As of now, no exact reason has been found to shed light on why Aghdam went to commit the crime. The only thing clear is that the woman had some strong resentment towards YouTube. Her family has reported that Aghdam hated the video-sharing website after her channel was demonetized.

Nasim Aghdam shooting at YouTube Headquarter

Image Courtesy of USA Today

YouTube has already pulled down all the videos pertaining to her channel in the aftermath of this incident. However, many scraped versions of her work - most of which were stilted music videos or exercise tutorials - managed to find new life.

Out of the bunch, the video to receive the most shares accounts Aghdam lashing out at YouTube moderators for age restricting an ab workout video on accounts of being too much provocative. But in the video, she explains that there are plenty more of such provocative videos which haven’t been restricted, and this partiality made her furious.

Now, this isn’t something new for the platform. With the start of YouTube moderation,  YouTubers also started voicing their protests against the platform. As YouTube never kicks off their contributors but merely demonetizes or restricts their content, the content creators try to appeal to their audience through the platform on how their livelihood is affected.

However, the most extreme cases to follow such resentment is with the content creators leaving the platform. This is the first time that anger got so out of hand that it resulted in a shooting. Now, many of the other YouTubers who also complained about the platform’s moderation system are citing the Aghdam incident to prove they were right.

Many people are currently going to the extent of holding YouTube moderation responsible for what has happened. The #censorshipkills campaign has already taken off, using the shooting as leverage to fight against moderation policies.

But on the same side, it should also be considered that YouTube is a massive platform. It would be foolish to consider that they are involved in a practice to handicap the platform’s content creators as the platform’s success is because of their users. YouTube’s goal has always been to keep their community happy, all the while reshaping it so that provocative and misleading contents don’t gain traction. In doing so, moderation is necessary, however, it will be difficult with the current incident in light.

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