On The Media

Tim has been on a roll recently. Not that Tim, the other Tim. Tim Pool. When YouTube and Twitter started purging ‘conservative’ Japanese content that wasn’t breaking any content rules, following what YouTube and Twitter were already doing in America, Tim Pool was the only online journalist reporting it.

I don’t always agree with Tim’s politics or watch every video post, but I always keep an eye on him. His reports on the devolution of mainstream media and how social media like YouTube and Twitter contribute to that decline, is on the nose. Another thing I like about Tim is that he believes in positive engagement and calling things as he finds it. This sets him apart from former Vice News colleagues: Tim has not lost the ability to think critically and objectively, he questions everything and tries to examine both sides of an issue. To me this is healthy.

And Tim knows when to play the YouTube de-ranking guessing game because he knows there are more important things to report on than waste time fighting YouTube. His milk toast reports are considered so dangerous by YouTube that real YouTube humans review his every video and suppress ones they don’t like:

One disturbing trend that social media drives is what I call cut and paste narrative journalism. Part of it is driven by the need for clicks and what big media thinks will sell. I see this frequently in mainstream western reporting on Japan that likes to portray Japan in a negative light. Here’s a recent piece written by Ian Bremmer for Time titled, Why the Japan-South Korea Trade War Is Worrying for the World, where you can see cut and paste narrative journalism in action.

Why the Japan-South Korea Trade War Is Worrying for the World

The opening sentence is a setup: “but it’s the trade spat between Japan and South Korea that signals the larger troubles ahead for the world.” This is Bremmer’s opinion, nothing else, and puts him squarely in the South Korea supporters club. There are plenty of economic experts who will tell you that Japanese ~ South Korean trade volume isn’t nearly as important as the media makes it out to be.

Skipping the next few sentences of regurgitated South Korean side only history, we arrive at the crucial sentence:

“Frustrated with the proceedings and determined to put pressure on Moon’s government to intervene in some way, Japan strengthened restrictions on several high-tech exports to South Korea in July and downgraded South Korea’s status as a trusted trading partner in August.”

This is classic cut and paste narrative. It substitutes fact for opinion, while presenting it as fact. Bremmer removes all the context of Japanese claims that South Korean was violating UN sanctions on North Korean, among many other things, leading up to the sanctions. Instead of crucial context we get: Japan is frustrated. Really? Can you prove that Ian?

The rest of the piece deflates from there into a half-hearted denouncement of President Trumps foreign policy, without naming Trump, as if Bremmer can’t decide whether it’s a good or bad thing for the U.S. to play the world’s policeman.

I find it hard to stay well informed with big media these days. Big media is still important but sifting the good from the bad is a lot more work. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to get easier.

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Twitter Follows YouTube Purge of Conservative Japanese Commentators

First YouTube and now Twitter is freezing mainstream conservative commentators. Kazuya’s bogus YouTube purge for ‘spam’ a few days ago, now reinstated after a overwhelming response from online Japanese across the political spectrum, has been followed by Twitter freezing his account. Two attacks this close together is not coincidence. I smell a rat.

The Twitter takedown is particularly bogus: a ‘well known’ lawyer lodged 4 copyright complaints on a Kazuya tweet that URL links to Kazuya’s own YouTube Channel video. In short somebody claimed copyright on content they don’t own. Twitter froze Kazuya’s account anyway. This is somebody hijacking DMCA rules to take down somebody else they don’t want on Twitter. Maybe Twitter wants it that way.

The YouTube purge has already damaged YouTube’s credibility in Japan because they don’t offer real reasons for banning or reinstating Kazuya’s account or other similar conservative commentator YouTuber accounts that are still frozen. YouTube comes across as being completely arbitrary or worse, politically motivated, a huge turn off for many Japanese.

If Twitter doesn’t do a better job of filtering bogus copyright claims and falls into the trap of becoming somebody else’s tool, Twitter credibility in Japan will be destroyed too.

Your choice Twitter.

UPDATE
Now Twitter has been caught engaging in Shadow Banning of conservative Twitter users but changed it overnight when caught by Vice. Meanwhile Kazuya’s Twitter account still remains frozen for unexplained reasons.

YouTube Purge Hits Conservative Japanese Channels

The YouTube purge of conservative and right-wing channels as described by Tim Pool earlier this year has hit Japan hard recently with many high-profile and popular channels such as Tsuneyasu Takeda and Kazuya taken down for vague YouTube community violations, spam mostly.

This is not fringe but mainstream commentators who write books, major magazine articles and appear on Japanese TV. Tsuneyasu Takeda is a university professor whose family are descendants from the Meiji Emperor. You cannot get more mainstream than that.

The takedowns are exactly the ‘one strike you’re out purge’ method that Tim Pool describes under the YouTube spam violation policies.

YouTube Spam Policies
Dubious spam violation is a favorite YouTube purge method

Takeda and Kazuya have both setup new YouTube Channels while their cases and uploaded catalog are ‘reviewed’ but subscriber numbers are way down as you’d expect. Pre-purge Kazuya had 490,000 subscribers, now he has 38,000. If YouTube’s intention here is to disrupt Japanese conservative commentators ahead of Japanese Diet elections due later this year, they certainly achieved that.

Regardless of politics I think YouTube’s purge first review later (if ever) action for dubious reasons is deplorable. This has already thrown a chill on Japanese online communities. Japanese take pride in listening to and respecting opinions of others even if they don’t agree with them. I think a lot of younger Japanese, and bloggers will think twice before trusting YouTube, or Google again.

UPDATE
The Japanese response to YouTube’s purge of the Kazuya Channel was so overwhelming that 3 hours after informing Kazuya that the YouTube review of his channel confirmed that it violated YouTube spam policies, without giving any specifics, and would not be reinstated, he received yet another email stating that the YouTube review found his channel did not violate spam policies and was reinstated. Again without offering any details or explanation. Kazuya thanked his followers in a comeback video but observed that YouTube’s actions may have damaged its reputation in Japan.

It already has.

UPDATE
Unfortunately the YouTube purge is spreading to Twitter.