With the European Parliament’s vote on the Copyright Directive just weeks away, creators are putting YouTube on blast over the way the video platform opened its networks to “scaremongering” and for sharing “misleading or false information” to its billions of users.
The Europe for Creators trade body, which counts Impala among its members, published an open letter to YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki claiming that the tech giant “has been actively using its own services to influence public opinion, often with misleading or false information” – including running banners and pop-ups on YouTube and sending emails guiding people to its own campaign.
The statement continues: “We believe it is totally unfair and unacceptable that your service, which dominates the online market, is exclusively used as a media service to promote your own commercial interests in a debate over European legislation. You advocate freedom of expression but what we have seen is a media service dedicated to the promotion of its own views, based on false information and scare tactics.”
The trade body is essentially calling out YouTube for pedaling fake news about the disastrous implications of Article 13, one of two controversial planks to the approved directive which would force user-generated platforms to install filters to police copyright-infringing content. YouTube owner Alphabet had lobbied intensively against Article 13 in recent years, and, despite the European Parliament voting on Sept. 12 to okay the fresh version of the Copyright Directive, the tech giant has continued to “influence public opinion, often with misleading or false information,” Europe for Creators claims.
Its message pulls no punches. “YouTube enabled the propagation of misinformation – such as the claims that Article 13 would lead to the shutting down of YouTube channels, kill European startups, put an end to memes and gifs and harm freedom of speech. In other words: change the Internet as we know it. Such scaremongering deliberately ignores the special protections provided in the text and misleads public opinion.”
Also, the creators’ lobby body is asking the tech giant to let it return the favour and email YouTubers and place pro-article 13 banner ads on YouTube “as you did for the ‘saveyourinternet’ campaign”.
The European Parliament is about to take a formal decision on the final text on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. Some commentators suggest the bill, which paves the way for artists to get a healthier cut of royalties from YouTube and other platforms, could be formally approved by the last week of March.