So earlier today I got a pretty disturbing PM from a guy in my inbox basically saying he’s going to “hack my ip”, find me and kill me. Now I didn’t find the threat particularly credible, but I decided to report the abuse anyway just because of it’s severity. I get angry commenters all the time, but when someone takes it to the level of threatening to kill me, I definitely feel I should report it no matter how non-credible I think the threat is. And you should too; if there’s one thing the internet taught me, is there are a lot of crazy mutants out there.
The guy also left a comment on my video basically saying the same thing. Apparently he deleted it, so I couldn’t select it using the report tool, but as of this writing it is still CLEARLY shows up on his profile history. You can see where he told me “You Wasting My Time I Hack your ip Find you And Kill You Son Of a [B*****]“. I mentioned in the report where they could see this comment on his profile. I took screenshots of the PM as well as the comment on his profile, and I attached it in the report.
However, I just got an email from YouTube that says, “We’re unable to identify a violation of our Community Guidelines within your recent report to our Safety and Abuse Tool.” Interestingly enough, the subject of the canned email was “Action Taken.” Though I couldn’t find any evidence of whatever action they were referring to and this violent and obviously disturbed individual faced no consequences.
Internet threats are commonplace, but that doesn’t mean they’re OK. Anonymity brings out the worst in people, and it reminds me of the quote by Oscar Wilde, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” Now I’m not saying anonymity is always a bad thing, and it’s really shaped the internet into what it is today. I’m almost certain it won’t be like that forever, and I’m somewhat looking forward to it. The day that people’s online actions stop being inconsequential will certainly be interesting. Until then, YouTube should take reports like these seriously. The person reviewing the report obviously did not even look at the threats or investigate at all, despite it all being laid out in front of him. Come on YouTube, you claim:
“We want to ensure that Youtube is a safe place for our users while allowing for a vibrant community to flourish. While some content may be insulting or offensive please note that we will only remove serious threats.
I guess a death threat just isn’t serious enough, YouTube? What a joke. I can’t even imagine what happens to all the other reports by people who received less severe yet still disturbing threats. Quite honestly, I can’t even be sure the report was reviewed by a human at all. How are we to know if an algorithm doesn’t search through the reports and determine which ones are “serious” enough for human review? I guess that’s what you can expect from a massive corporation that doesn’t even have customer support email.
That’s the end of my rant, but I think something really needs to be done about this. Law enforcement is not equipped to deal with internet threats, nor do they have the time. Until they do, we just have to hope people aren’t as crazy in real life as they are on the internet.
ADDENDUM: I think I should clarify that I understand why YouTube would not accept screenshots as evidence, since they are extremely easy to fake. However, I want to specify what I believe are the two biggest problems with YouTube’s system for reporting abuse.
- You can’t report PMs. This is huge, since if someone is targeting someone else specifically, they will be likely to use PMs. The fact that you can only use comments as evidence, which the other person can delete any time, is stupid.
- YouTube obviously does not spend a lot of time reviewing these reports and/or doesn’t take them seriously. If they had taken two seconds to look at the guy’s profile, they would have surely seen the comment I was referring to.
This article isn’t about me. It’s about YouTube.