2600 KICKED OFF OF YOUTUBE FOR SARCASTIC REMARK

We were as surprised as anyone could have been. The notice arrived in the inbox of our Channel2600 YouTube channel and it read as follows:

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Hi Channel2600,

Our team has reviewed your content, and, unfortunately, we think it violates our misinformation policy. We've removed the following content from YouTube:

Video: Off The Hook Overtime 2022-09-28

We know that this might be disappointing, but it's important to us that YouTube is a safe place for all. If content breaks our rules, we remove it. If you think we've made a mistake, you can appeal and we'll take another look. Keep reading for more details.

How your content violated the policy

Content that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or glitches changed the outcome of the U.S. 2020 presidential election is not allowed on YouTube.

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In addition, we were informed that there was now a strike against our account and that further such behavior would result in our channel being permanently shut down. That's right, the channel that hosts ALL content from the HOPE conferences in addition to our weekly podcast that follows our 34-year-old radio show "Off The Hook."

Google (owner of YouTube) would not elaborate on what precisely they were accusing us of. We have been outspoken defenders of the 2020 presidential election, so to be accused of the exact opposite was a real shock to us. We were given the opportunity to review the content, but they didn't specify anything beyond pointing to the entire 60 minute episode.

So we reviewed the whole thing, looking for something that may have crossed the line, knowing full well there wouldn't be. In the end, all we could find was a sarcastic remark by one of the hosts who pretended for a sentence or two to be an election denier, immediately followed by the words "I'm kidding." And that, in the world of Google, was enough.

Of course, we filed an immediate appeal while scores of listeners added their outraged comments and the word began spreading. Within an hour, we received this message via email:

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After taking another look, we can confirm that your content does not violate our Community Guidelines.

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But none of our questions were answered. How did this happen in the first place? Was this an automated process or some literal-minded employee? And just what guidelines were being utilized here?

We support restrictions on hate speech and blatantly false information designed to mislead the public. As mentioned, we have stood up for our democratic elections and we've sided with science over superstition. We also believe that a company can make whatever rules they want with their systems, provided they're not discriminatory against people based on race, religion, sexual identity, etc. What Google did here was well over the line, even if they do legally have the right to shut out people they consider to be spreading lies. Because this time they went after sarcasm, whether through artificial intelligence or humorless human, and such behavior is certain to have a chilling effect on free speech of all sorts.

We have already received "helpful" hints from listeners as to phrases we should avoid and methods of expressing opinions that won't "cross the line" and get us kicked off of YouTube again. While we thank those people for their thoughts, that's precisely what we're not going to do. We intend to fully express whatever opinions we may have, and we will continue to use sarcasm wherever we deem it necessary - and we tend to do that quite a bit. We also will continue to talk to people with differing opinions. If someone were to call into our podcast and express alternate thinking on anything from elections to vaccines, we would engage them in some form of conversation and attempt to get them to reconsider. That's OUR call - not Google's or Facebook's, or Twitter's. We refuse to be intimidated into avoiding the conversation altogether, lest Google somehow take offense. You can count on us doing this more frequently in the future. That's how it works when you tell hackers they can't do something.

We live in precarious and somewhat weird times. And we know that occasionally steps have to be taken to retain some semblance of control and sanity. But invariably, the people who do this wind up overstepping. When that happens, we must all be there in order to check them. Had the above happened to someone without our vast support network, their voice would simply have been silenced. Had it happened to an entity that depends on Google/YouTube for their income, common sense would have dictated that they watch what they say if they want to survive. But we run our own servers and we don't buy into much of this crap. We're here to speak our minds as we have always done. And when that's challenged, we'll raise the volume. We really doubt that's surprising to anyone.

Thanks as always for your support. You can write to us at webmaster@2600.com of DM @2600 on Twitter.

Here's a link to the eleven second clip at the heart of all this.