YouTube Under Criticism Over New “Censorship” Controversies


Chloe Ruffennach, Staff writer

French YouTube sensation Laetitia Birbes claims that YouTube staff threatened her to censor her questions when interviewing Jean-Claude Juncker, the 61-year-old French EU chief executive.

According to, Juncker completed a string of live interviews with young social media celebrities for YouTube. However, Birbes came forward afterwards with video evidence showing herself being allegedly threatened by a YouTube staffer to ask different questions than what she had originally planned.

The man who threatened Birbes was seen wearing a YouTube tee-shirt, and, according to The Guardian, told her that she should not “alienate” the commission or YouTube. Later he added that she should follow his instructions “unless [she doesn’t] plan on lasting long on YouTube”.

Birbes took to YouTube shortly after the interview was conducted to inform her following about what had just occurred. She spoke out in a video and said, “They expected me to put really easy questions. It was all meant as a big advert for Juncker.”

The commission’s chief spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, spoke to the press on Monday, addressing the issue on Juncker’s behalf. He told the media, “Frankly, we are a bit annoyed that for some reason we are now becoming part of the story with which we have absolutely nothing to do.”

YouTube also took time to formally comment on the matter and stated, “Our colleague encouraged her to be respectful rather than confrontational.” They also added that Birbes asked the questions she wanted to ask despite the dispute.

Unfortunately for YouTube, this is not the only form of censorship that they have presented that has come under the fire of social media users. Besides the Birbes interview, controversy has been discussed throughout the internet as YouTube has since propositioned a new form of censorship to their site.

The program is called “YouTube Heroes” and, according to journalist Philip DeFranco, the program will give “heroes” the ability to flag videos at their will for content that they claim violates the YouTube terms and conditions in exchange for “points” or credits through YouTube. This includes any videos displaying violence, inappropriate language, and the promotion of drugs or sexually suggestive content.

Amongst the copyright disputes and demonetization scandals that have come out within the passing months, this sets YouTube under scrutiny as many debate if they are deliberately stripping their content-providers of their freedom of speech. DeFranco even proposed that the new addition to the site may lead to censorship of topics such as Syrian violence, given that reporting on such grim events may violate the YouTube conditions. Such newsworthy topics would violate the condition that users will not display “violence, including display of injury and events related to violent extremism.”

Many social media users have been left in outrage after YouTube’s new alleged censorship, with sites like even claiming that the new Heroes program “is just the most recent roll-out against free speech and it will not be the last”.

YouTube has yet to comment on the backlash received from the new program.

Those interested in becoming a YouTube Hero can currently register at


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