Monday, March 12, 2007

YouTube Banned Again: Time To Rethink Web 2.0

After Brazil & Turkey, YouTube seems to have got a similar treatment in Thailand. Beginning past Friday till Saturday evening, YouTube users in Thailand got redirected to website of MICT, the government agency responsible for Internet censorship.

In Thailand, the site was later restored but the ban in Brazil and Turkey was lifted only when YouTube removed the videos which lead to the controversy. The kind of reaction YouTube has faced from government and judges looks bizarre. This series of bans on YouTube and subsequent judgements raises certain concerns in mind about user generated content and the future of web 2.0 companies.

The freedom for users and user-generated content around which the entire Web 2.0 concept revolves goes for a toss when sharing and viewing is banned by force. Users should be deciding what should be shared & seen and what not; however, the democracy of Internet takes a backseat when interest of government or authorities comes forward. Like in case of Thailand, Mashable reports that, the ban could be related to clips from a CNN interview featuring Thailand’s ex-Prime Minister Thaksin who was ousted by the Thai military. It seems that the current regime is not happy about the media exposure Thaskin is getting.

This does not imply that there should not be any censorship on the content but solutions need to be explored to involve users in filtering objectionable content. Although, the voting system used by Digg and other sites is a similar solution but that does not seem to be enough. Suggestions are welcome...!

If we look from a Web 2.0 company's perspective, these kind of situations are really discouraging for startups and headache for established ones. When a giant like YouTube could not stand their ground, in a situation which should not have lead to a ban in the first place, what will happen to a smaller companies. Startups, generally, don't feel comfortable entering areas with lot of legal hassles. If these kind of bans keep coming in, not many startups
will dream of getting into video sharing arena.

I will not be surprised if these kind of activities and judgements, which have set a precedent now, are used as weapons by companies to pull their competitors in court or probably getting banned!!!

Let me know your opinion on this and probable solutions to content moderation if any has come to your mind.

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