YouTube, while being the most popular video hosting/sharing website, has some extreme failures that are frequently overlooked by the majority of users.
The benefits of YouTube can not be understated; its value to the internet is unparalleled. If the advent of internet is equivalent to the invention of interchangeable type, then YouTube is the creation of television. Not content with sharing text, pictures, and audio files, we created a way to stream video without even having to download it. It has connected hundreds of millions of people who would otherwise never felt any connection to those other people.
At the same time, YouTube is a consumer nightmare. Accounts are unchangeable – your user name is permanent – so your username “BongFucker69” that you made as a teen now has 100 videos on it: you’re 25 years old and stuck with it. If you want to download your videos and re-upload them, YouTube only lets you download two of your videos per hour! You’d have to download a third-party program and download it that way, if you don’t want it taking weeks; then you have to re-upload them to a new account, including copying/pasting the descriptions and tags. If one wants a new user name, it is the most “impossible” thing in the YouTube world.
Then there’s things like copyright and content issues, with YouTube’s policy being “better safe than sorry,” which means that they frequently remove videos they see as possibly violating a copyright (when many videos do not violate anything, based in “fair use” practices we see every day on the TV news). Normally, that’s not a problem, except the world is getting stricter and the violations come with a cost – two or more infractions can come with an account ban, destroying all videos uploaded and making them impossible to access ever again. So, while you won’t have to worry about your stupid username any more, you had better hope you backed up your video content, or that graduation video you posted will be gone forever.
Now, if you’re like me, you think, “It’s cool. I’m sure if something happens, there is a crack team of customer service representatives ready to solve my problems.” You would be wrong. And not wrong, like when you thought that about Craigslist – discovering that no matter what you write or how many times you write it, Craigslist customer service will never reply to you. Ever. YouTube found a way to avoid those kind of annoying situations. They just eliminated the whole concept of server/user content. You can’t email YouTube for anything, outside of your being either the press asking a question or a person objecting to a copyright. There is no “firstname.lastname@example.org.” It’s not that YouTube cares so little about the people who upload content to their site that they have some crappy IT/HR/PR section pretend to do the job. They don’t even pretend. That’s how little they care about what you, the user of their product, have to say about it. Imagine a television network that is solely loyal to its advertisers, virtually monopolizes the market, and eliminates any ability for their customers to contact them – that is YouTube.
The long-and-short of YouTube is that it’s a site that has figured out how to generate income via advertisers by using content that they have no stake in, at all; they do their best to isolate their money-making side from the content creation side, insuring that they keep as much money and power as possible while keeping the users creating content as far outside their scope as possible. There is no way to ask a question, protest a judgment (videos can get deleted for as little as a TV in the background showing material that is copyrighted), or make major alterations to an account. This is the reality of the “freedom” associated with YouTube; by 2015, it will hardly resemble what it was in 2005.
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