Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
[flagged] YouTube bans 14 year old for violating hate speech guidelines (thehill.com)
60 points by anigbrowl 71 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 98 comments

> Soph threatened to murder YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki earlier this year, which resulted in the site temporarily suspending and demonetizing her account, according to BuzzFeed.

Why is this controversial in any way? She was lucky to get back on.

Not a credible threat, according to police. Also, only after she was targeted by the media (a common pattern for Youtube to take action).

> “Susan, I’ve known your address since last summer. I’ve got a Luger and a mitochondrial disease. I don’t care if I live. Why should I care if you live or your children? I just called an Uber. You’ve got about seven minutes to draft up a will. … I’m coming for you, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.”

The credibility of the threat to murder is quite relevant for legal reasons, but I don't understand how there are people who are upset that she was banned from YouTube for this.

It's a reasonable standard but I'd like to see it applied more fairly.

Were any of these celebrities [1] deplatformed for threatening Republicans?

Does anyone on the left consider that their hateful rhetoric might be inspiring their own followers to violence when that happens?

1: https://www.thewrap.com/hollywood-stars-donald-trump-violent...

I clicked your link expecting threats comparable to the above. What I mostly got were off-color jokes. Like, an example here is Rosie O'Donnell (who is absolutely an idiot when it comes to political commentary) tweeting a link to a flash game where you can push Trump off a cliff. What is the scenario where this is at all connected to reality? I could certainly see it being seen as threatening and I wouldn't shed a tear if she was banned from it, but do you think that's comparable to the kind of threat being discussed in this thread?

Another example at this link is the NYC Public Theatre's presentation of Julius Caesar, which typically is a modern adaptation of Caesar where Caesar is depicted as whoever is currently in charge; and they did a production where Caesar is dressed like Trump. It's been a while since I've read Caesar, but the premise of Julius Caesar is that the conspirators who overthrow the man they believe to be a tyrant are themselves tyrannical. Caesar is not depicted well, but he's not the bad guy and the play isn't glorifying or calling for violence against Caesar, it's depicting the tragic spiral of consequences as a result of the coup against him. It's not even commentary about Trump, it's a running thing they do with whoever the contemporary leader is. They have previously done productions with an Obama-Caesar. I think they may have also had a Clinton-Caesar.

Another linked example involves a music video where a robot that looks like Trump explodes. Do you think this is threatening violence against Trump?

I just mention this because I'm trying to understand what possessed you to link to this to draw an equivalence. The only example given that seems at all comparable is the Big Sean lyric, and even then, I'm not sure I accept the premise that we should take a lyric from a song to be directly equivalent to an apparently straight-faced declaration of intent.

Do you think you could elaborate a bit on how you believe the linked examples are equivalent to his without saying "the left"? Like, specifically, which of the linked examples do you think is most directly comparable to this, and specifically, which of the threats would you ban if you controlled YouTube and those threats were made on YouTube?

I'd bet my next paycheck you won't get a response.

> I'd bet my next paycheck you won't get a response.

Donate that paycheck to a good charity, I just responded.

I have pretty strong views on free speech. I wouldn't ban any of these, and I wouldn't have banned this 14 year old either.

But while I can see reason in the argument for banning her, I think such a position also calls for banning depictions of people holding up severed heads of their opponents (as in two of the cases in the link) or "joking" about smothering them with a pillow or beating them with a Louisville slugger (as in two other cases).

You seem to have chosen the most "fictional" of the examples (video games, theatre) and ignored the very explicit depictions of violence and "jokes" that are nothing more than descriptions of violent acts.

Your intervention in the thread wasn't to argue that this girl shouldn't be deplatformed, it was to list apparently horrible instances of celebrities on the left threatening Republicans and getting away with it. I am surprised that your intended point was to say that those things all should be allowed, and so should this girl. It is deeply strange to me that you thought your original post would have conveyed this.

Were you personally convinced by the strength of the article you linked that there is an epidemic of threatened violence against Republicans?

I highlighted examples that I believed were being alleged to be threats. You did not clarify that you linked an article you thought was filled with nonsense examples but you wanted to talk about Kathy Griffith.

Kathy Griffith seems like a stupid idiot. She did get "deplatformed" after the Trump thing, which appeared in a magazine. Most of her work since then has been talking about how she can't get booked anymore. She lost a bunch of work. This is all fairly well documented. You must know this, since you were aware enough of the wave of leftist celebrity violence incitement to have the link to the article on hand. Why did you pivot to saying I should engage more thoroughly with her case but leave out the details?

But if we really want to unpack it, you've conceptually slipped from "threatening violence in a literal and direct way", which the 14 year old shithead definitely did, to "depicting violence" or "doing something everyone knows is a joke but that is arguably violent." Kathy Griffith's thing is a stupid tasteless stunt by a comedienne whose entire career is being stupid and tasteless. But I don't see even the slightest comparison between that and this.

You also call attention to the "smother with a pillow" Larry Wilmore line. The "joke", such as it is -- Wilmore's show was terrible and so I am not surprised the joke was terrible too -- is that some far-right figures believed in a conspiracy that Antonin Scalia was smothered with a pillow. Antonin Scalia was not smothered with a pillow. It is difficult to argue that a joke about conspiracy theorists should be construed to otherwise be a dead serious threat.

Should I take this to mean that you believe Antonin Scalia was smothered with a pillow? This might be off topic, but I think it's relevant as to your ability to adjudicate whether there is an epidemic of leftist incitement to violence against Republicans, which was your original argument, apparently in support of your position that no one should be banned for making direct and personalized death threats on social media.

That's a lot of tangents and my time is limited right now, so let's focus on Kathy Griffin.

Yes, I heard she was deplatformed by some media outlets, but not by YouTube.


So if YouTube now has a policy of deplatforming violence, I'd like to see it enforced fairly.

That doesn't mean I necessarily approve of that policy, but that's not my decision and I can see that it's a reasonable policy, if enforced fairly.

That will have to be all for now, I have other things to do, but if you'd like to continue I'll try to respond later.

Okay, so first let it be noted that you linked a list of 15 bad examples and when I called them out you called me cherrypicking, then when I stopped cherrypicking your immediate response was "I don't have enough time to engage with all the examples". Jeez louise, you literally just asked for me to "open up tangents". I was satisfied summarizing your list as ridiculous garbage that made no sense. The reason we're still talking about it is because you wanted to. Okay, let's only talk about Kathy Griffith for some reason.

The reason YouTube did not ban Kathy Griffith under rules for threatening violence is because: 1) The purported threatened violence was not threatened on YouTube, it was for a magazine. 2) The purported threatened violence was not a threat of violence, it was a depiction of violence. Those are not the same thing, but I'm totally fine with banning for the latter. You're the one that isn't fine with the thing you're arguing for. 3) The threat occurred at a time before YouTube put these rules in place. Updating your rules isn't being a hypocrite because you didn't time travel after doing so. It's also literally what the left has been asking for for years.

But separate from that, your position was that the left didn't deplatform her, and unsurprisingly, it did. CNN, Home Of The Left Biased Anti Trump Fake News, fired her immediately. So great, it is agreed that celebrities face significant reputational consequence for doing things that aren't threatening violence but are adjacent and might be perceived as uncouth.

Again, I need to stress that the person in the OP directly threatened violence. She didn't say "I hope the people who own YouTube get shot". She didn't say "If I was alone in a room with YouTube lady, I'd punch her in the face". She didn't do a music video of robot YouTube getting exploded. She did a direct and personal threat to murder a specific named individual. And you thought the really important aspect of this story was talking about Kathy Griffith.

Let's recap the thread: You think that no one should be banned for threatening violence on YouTube. To support this argument, you link a bunch of people, some of whom were deplatformed, most of whom aren't threatening violence, and most of whom weren't doing the thing they're accused of on YouTube. You then insist I'm being uncharitable to the evidence by not taking more seriously the threats of violence, which again are mostly not threats, and again, you don't think we should take actual threats of violence seriously.

You should advance the argument you actually believe in, not do a bizarre strawman devil's advocate where you say "I don't believe in banning people, but imagine if I did because I was a tyrannical anti-speech leftist, then I would be a hypocrite, because I wouldn't ban this anti-Trump celebrity, which makes me a hypocrite, checkmate".

I said it was a reasonable position, not that it was my preference. I'm capable of admitting that something that isn't my first choice is reasonable. But it's not reasonable if it's enforced unfairly.

And the policy here at Hacker News is to consider the strongest version of an argument. You did the opposite, cherry-picking the weakest examples.

> you linked a list of 15 bad examples

No, a list (that I didn't make) with some examples that were stronger than others, and you tried to ignore the strong ones. Even you admitted that Kathy Griffin's actions led to deplatforming from some platforms. And you've again ignored the cartoonist who also depicted Trump's severed head. And you're dismissing talk about beating someone up because you disagree with them as an "off-color joke".

You also misrepresented my position.

> your position was that the left didn't deplatform her

This is a discussion about YouTube's policy, it's natural to assume I meant YouTube, which I did. Again, respond to the strongest version of my argument, not a different argument that's easier to attack.

As a bystander here, it's almost impossible to work out what your argument actually is, let alone what the strongest version of it might be. It seems to be nothing more than whataboutism, like when a primary school child gets told off and their response is to complain that someone else did something entirely unrelated and didn't get told off.

Your simile is terrible. I'm not one of the parties, I'm like a third party who watched two children be treated differently and pointed out the inconsistency.

And my point is simple: YouTube should have a consistent policy and enforce it fairly, not ban haphazardly when they feel like it. What you call "whataboutism" shows that the policy isn't enforced consistently or fairly.

I don't know why that's hard to work out when I said it in the first post.

Because you're talking about _YouTube_ having a consistent policy again, while providing a load of examples of things that didn't happen on YouTube. You're all over the place here.

>Do you think you could elaborate a bit on how you believe the linked examples are equivalent to his without saying "the left"? Like, specifically, which of the linked examples do you think is most directly comparable to this, and specifically, which of the threats would you ban if you controlled YouTube and those threats were made on YouTube?

A non-response isnt a response

What is this nonsense? First you bet I won't respond then claim I haven't? You're not discussing this in good faith.

> specifically, which of the threats would you ban if you controlled YouTube and those threats were made on YouTube?

I answered that. I personally wouldn't ban any of these including the 14 year old in question.

> specifically, which of the linked examples do you think is most directly comparable to this

I don't think any of them is "equivalent", but a policy that bans one should ban the other. I'm not in favor of "rules lawyers" constructing an elaborate system that bans some threats and depictions of violence but excuses others.

Really? The Police don't consider _that_ a credible threat? Wow!

To be credible, the person making the threat needs to be able to act on it. If I say "I am going to shoot you right now" but am not holding a gun, that's not a credible threat.

I assume the police saw a 14yo who can't take an Uber by themselves and cannot buy a gun and said "yeah, no way he could follow this one through".

Edit: I'm not saying the kid shouldn't be punished, or that the law shouldn't be something else. This is just answering how that particular tweet that was being discussed was interpreted by police to not constitute a "credible threat"

I'd guess there are more than a few 14-year-old children with access to a gun and an Uber account.

She tweeted a picture of herself with a gun _with_ the threat. It says so right in the article.

It was a razor scooter held up in such a way as to look like a gun.

It's clearly an AR-15 hand guard

Please stop spreading disinformation.


And for context:

https://i.imgur.com/NpvySvG.jpg (Pewdiepie)

(It's edgy humor/let kids play on their skateboard)

This is a bad faith argument, Pewdiepie isn't directly threatening anyone. Soph was directly making a threat.

She can't keep getting away with this.

They totally come with Picatinny rails...

Police will interpret and enforce the law in ways that aren't always legal. I wouldn't consider their interpretation of what a credible threat is to be canonical.

Apologies for forgetting to answer this at the time, but there seem few if any obstacles toa smart 14 yo taking an uber ride and you seem to have overlooked the possibility that her parents already own one or more guns, which is extremely common in the US.

Regardless of that, isn't it still a crime this child committed?

Well obviously the media got involved - Youtube's track record of responding to content reports is pretty much non-existent, the only time they take meaningful action is when the media draws attention to it.

> Soph _threatened to murder_ YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki earlier this year, which resulted in the site temporarily suspending and demonetizing her account, according to BuzzFeed. [ emphasis mine ]

This goes far beyond hate speech.

They should call Child Protective Services and get her home investigated.

Back in my day, this type of thing would land you in juvenile detention. You wouldn't be released until you passed a psychiatric evaluation, which was no simple task.

Perhaps we need to return to the days of removing very clearly troubled people from circulation until they aren't a danger to others.

>Back in my day, this type of thing would land you in juvenile detention. You wouldn't be released until you passed a psychiatric evaluation, which was no simple task.

Back in my day this type of thing would end with a talk with a local policeman, and maybe a smacking from your parents.

Psychiatric evaluation, police involvement, the media covering, etc, for a BS death threat by a 14 year old is quite a new development (of course "back in my day" teenagers also didn't regularly take guns and mass shoot people).

>Perhaps we need to return to the days of removing very clearly troubled people from circulation until they aren't a danger to others.

Yeah, that attitude worked great for the US and its harshest penalties, highest in the world incarceration rate, and record high recidivism. No murder capital of the western world, no mass shooting capital of the western world, no dangerous loony capital of the western world, etc...


It's almost like exclusion, not inclusion, is the process by which you create quality communities.

Of course, redemption should always be on the table. It's worth the risk.

>exclusion, not inclusion

Why not both? Why generalize to all scenarios at all times?

Because inclusion is trivial. Everyone is welcome.

The process of exclusion is what causes you to define the borders of acceptability, and allows participants to have a clear understanding of when they're at risk of being excluded. Then they'll weigh their wants vs the rules and make a decision about whether they value their ideas over the group membership. Then what you are left with is people who want to be in the group more than they want to follow their whims against the group's rules.

> They should call Child Protective Services and get her home investigated.

Never play XBox Live.

The talk on the swampy places of the internet is that she has got a brother, whom ghost writes her videos, and he had been radicalizing her into right wing extremist circles for a long time.

I would very much support the idea of Child Protective Services being called up on her

She had a period in her life where she did nothing but browse /pol/ all day cus she has some genetic immune system issue.

the brother is a leftist and unrelated to the girl, this is misinformation that keeps spreading for no perceivable reason

If she speaks like an adult she should be treated like one.

Yawn. Teenagers gonna teenage.

It sounds like you're saying that anything a teenager says should be dismissed as "not serious" regardless of content or context, but you haven't given much to go on.

Right? This is basic teenage crap, with the reach and ubiquity of the internet attached.

I think it's foolish to attribute this kind of awful behavior to being a teenager. We can expect more from children and teenagers than the world tends to credit them.

I don't. I remember being a teenager. There was no shortage of 14 year olds making spurious death threats and generally being all-around pricks. And here we've got somebody that wants to get CPS involved of all things. Talk about making things worse.

Video in question https://www.bitchute.com/video/FNqiV8kL4cc/

I've never seen a 14 year old talking like that. Possible explanations: 1) she's a young-looking adult 2) she's a teenager with an adult scriptwriter 3) she's a deepfake/filter with a teenager's face and voice. I want to believe it's (3) because that would be the most Black Mirror thing.

The 14 year olds with popular YouTube channels are several standard deviations away from anybody you have ever met, simply because the number of teenagers striving for internet popularity dwarfs the number that anyone has met personally.

I think it is genuinely her too, and I honestly feel a bit scared... Society is so damn polarized today.

Does there exist two different demographic groups that actually are in harmony today?

Or she's just a particularly smart and argumentative kid who grew up mostly online. I've met 14 year olds like this but they weren't mostly tackling controversial subjects.

Yeah people underestimate 14 year olds pretty regularly, there's a lot of dumb kids out there but there's some very precocious ones too.

Between your link and this interview I saw yesterday with a 12 year old girl (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUSPmg3MJZQ), I am beginning to believe that all of us adults are much much much dumber than we think we are :D

What you're seeing is largely the result of the internet accelerating the amount of information a child can consume, growing up with that produces extremely unique individuals.

I would say it's #2 mixed with someone orchestrating the acts to become an alt right celebrity for fame, money and probably "red pilling". The death threats she made are part of the M.O and getting banned from YouTube is on purpose to get as much publicity and exposure as possible.

And it's working very well.

I believe it was found that her brother helped write some of the scripts for her videos.

Oh well if cousin_it has never seen a 14 year old talk like that then clearly they don't exist (hint: they do)

No she's for real, I've watched her Minecraft streams, she was on DramaAlert way back when she was called LtCorbis.

I agree. It's VERY hard to believe a 14 year old wrote and produced that content. It's too complex and engages in content that a child would have no real interest in talking about.

I want to agree with this, but the delivery is also not-14-ish. I have a 15yo child. This is in uncanny-valley in both the "what 14 yo would write this?" and "what 14 yo would want to delivery this?" quadrants.

That said, it also feels like copy-pasta from the conservative radio voices of the last 20 years (Rush Limbaugh, etc).

This is actually her, there's a video somewhere where she tried to debate Destiny.

The fact that she can lead a 20-minute interview ...


... rules out (2). Technology is not advanced enough for (3). So (1) is currently the most likely: https://www.reddit.com/r/13or30/

Though you've missed the less likely option 4), an extraordinarily gifted 13-yo girl spending too much time on the internet. Some kids are amazingly smart.

Technology is already in use for #3: https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-49151042

Yeah, but the technology is not good enough for the level of authenticity here.

0.0% it's just her. It's too clever and referential to adult themes to be a kid.

Yeah, the language she's using is far and above what most 14 year old kids are capable of. I genuinely believe she's just the face of someone else who's writing and producing these videos.

You gravely underestimate 14 year olds.

Be curious to understand US government's role here.

When a 14 year old "threatened to murder YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki" surely it crossed the line into being a child welfare problem.

I'm sure it can be solved by a more local level CPS department.

Is it relevant who someone is if they break rules? Being 14 shouldn't exempt someone from the consequences of "violating hate speech guidelines".

Am I supposed to be outraged by this ban? It sounds like it was well deserved.

Here's the video


It's very well written. Would have to be a teams work, or she's very gifted, possibly both and has enough cynicism to be seen as a parady.

But if I was Russia I'd be her patreon, the cynicism is funny, but it bleeds heavily into reality. It's propaganda of some sort, or part of its machinery.

(And it's clearly written to get her booted from YouTube, mission accomplished)

A pole shift has occurred in the US. In the past, transgressive comedy almost exclusively came out of the left (I'm thinking Lenny Bruce, Hunter S. Thompson, John Waters, etc). The right, by comparison, was straight-laced.

These days, more and more, transgressive voices are coming from the right. Soph is pretty extreme but I do see the humor in her videos. You're not obligated to laugh, but if you don't see the humor, take a step back and consider that conservatives rarely saw the humor in Bruce, Thompson, or Waters.

Even assuming for academic reasons that the situation is identical in every way, except with left-right political nouns swapped - why is the inverse version bad, requiring that people "take a step back"?

"Identical in every way" is strong wording that I didn't use.

> why is the inverse version bad, requiring that people "take a step back"?

What I'm saying is that if you don't see the humor, you're missing something.

You don't have to think it's funny. You can think it's "going too far" or "in poor taste". But there is a strange brand of transgressive humor there.

>What I'm saying is that if you don't see the humor, you're missing something.

There's quite literally no humor on this, the Youtube headquarters have in the past already been targeted by mentally unstable people in a shooting.

> There's quite literally no humor on this

I'm sure more than one person said this about Lenny Bruce, probably during his obscenity trial.

What percentage of minorities do you think would find this funny compared to the majority?

I have no idea. But there's an important difference between "finding something funny" (i.e. laughing) and "seeing the humor in something".

To put it another way: sometimes I don't laugh at a joke but I can still recognize that it's a joke.

I, for one, am interested in what the little girl has to say

She talks about how homosexuals are dangerous because of pedophilia, and that having an aversion towards homosexuals isn't the same thing homophobia; you can think something is immoral without fearing it.

“Homophobia” is a term adopted for bigotry against homosexuals, not fear of homosexuals (“-phobia” in general does not mean exclusively fear, though that's the most common single-word interpretation.) Homophobia and transphobia denote the same attitude toward gay and trans people, respectively, that misogyny denotes toward women, despite the fact that th prefix “mis-” and the suffix “-phobia” aren't exactly equivalent in range of meaning.

But, yeah, that's been an argument by homophobes to argue that their homophobia isn't homophobia for decades, and even if it wasn't ignorant of the general use of tg suffix, it would still only be an argument that the word “homophobia” was a sui generis idiom rather than an obvious combination of it's etymological components (which it arguably is anyway, since “homo-” is short for “homosexual” rather than being a normal use of the prefix), rather than an actual argument against what they exhibit actually being what is denoted by the term.

Followed by Patreon banning her the following day. It's getting pretty crazy how little one has to do to get deplatformed, if you've attracted an audience.

I was deservedly banned from chatting in World of Warcraft when I was 14 because I said some stupid shit, and the things I said weren't remotely comparable to this Soph kid. Sure, I'm glad my incident didn't get written about in The Hill, but do we really need to pretend that there is controversy every time a racist crossing over from 4chan gets an account banned on social media?

Can't believe you're not allowed to threaten to murder people these days. Everyone's so sensitive!

Liberal snowflakes getting the Deep State to censor Good People™ under orders from their military-industrial complex overlords.

It is so easy to immediately take a side here, but I have never seen her content.

It is true that people are being de-platformed unfairly and I am usually against deplatforming, but others do deserve it.

Regardless, she's a kid. As much as I advocate for free speech, I believe we shouldn't encourage kids to be "shock-jocks" or used to promote political agendas. It is so easy for kids to be seduced into an ideology even if just for the attention.

Serious question here.

Do you really think YouTube, Patreon, reddit, and whoever else should be required to allow people who make death threats to use their platform?

I know it was a rhetorical question but of course not. This a pretty clear cut case, if you break the law you while you are doing an activity, you deserve to be kicked out from any platform you use to promote your work. Threatening people should be taken very seriously.She should be thankful she embodies the right demographic so authorities were very lenient.

It really wasn't intended to be rhetorical question. I was hoping the parent commenter would answer the question, because the fact that he seems upset about Soph getting deplatformed indicates that he doesn't think that death threats should be grounds for deplatforming.

I'm really hoping that what actually happened is that gfosco didn't read the article and is unaware about what Soph specifically said to get her kicked off YouTube and Patreon.

It's easy to talk in broad generalities, but let's be specific.

What, exactly, do you think people should have a platform to say, but are denied by YouTube and Patreon?

Yeah, seriously. People are so sensitive about murder threats these days, I mean come on.

Back in my day, when you threatened to send a bomb to a tv station, they put you in a prime time slot!

Pretty sure that her public record had a lot to do with it:


This isn't "a little".

The girl is platformy-challenged, you shouldn't mock her for that.

Wait. What would one have to do to deserve being deplatformed, if death threats don’t meet the bar?

Why do you feel a platform should allow someone to use it to threaten the life of someone else?

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact