Thursday 18 October 2018

YouTube deletes loyalist band parade videos - claiming they 'promote proscribed terror organisations'

Valerie Quinn
Valerie Quinn

Allan Preston

YouTube has been criticised after video accounts of band parades were deleted, with some users losing years of work overnight.

The website deleted around 10 accounts over the weekend dedicated to band parades for violating guidelines. A YouTube spokesperson said, "Many forms of cultural expression are allowed on YouTube, however we do not allow content that promotes proscribed terror organisations."

A number of those affected claimed there had been a campaign of complaints.

Richard Bullick from Ahoghill has been documenting band parades here for 11 years, often working on videos seven days a week.

Last Saturday he was delighted to reach 10 million views on his channel after uploading 21,000 videos.

But he is now upset and puzzled as to why his work has vanished.

"I started going out to parades every weekend, it grew and grew and I would try and capture about 90 parades a year," he said.

"There's nothing controversial on there, it's just bands marching down the street."

Mr Bullick said he received an email from YouTube to say he had breached its community guidelines.

"It certainly looks like we've been targeted, in that all the accounts were deleted at once. I've never had any bother for my videos until now," he said.

YouTube issues 'strikes' to users when it is notified of a violation of its guidelines.

A third strike leads to an account being terminated. Users have the right to appeal. Breaches include, but are not limited to, videos which contain nudity; sexual content; violent or graphic content; harmful or dangerous content; hateful content; threats; spam, misleading metadata or scams.

YouTube has recently come under fire over videos on its website.

In March the company was blasted by MPs for failing to remove extremist material from well-known terrorist groups, including far-right neo-Nazi group National Action.

At the time the Home Affairs Select Committee told YouTube bosses that their attempts to monitor radical and dangerous content was "simply not good enough".

'Neill', from Newtownabbey, has been running the On The March Videos page for six years.

His account, with around 12,000 videos, was also deleted over the weekend after receiving only two strikes.

"It's just normal videos of bands marching, there was nothing inappropriate about it at all," he said.

"Someone decided to complain and my account was deleted."

As well as filming loyal order and band parades, Neill also records events including the Belfast Tattoo, the Milk Cup, church services and concerts.

"My whole aim is to promote a positive image of the loyal orders and the bands, so I would never put anything vulgar or offensive up," he said.

"I've spent thousands of hours editing them and putting them on to YouTube.

"When I saw they were deleted I was gutted and just started crying."

Valerie Quinn, chair of the Ulster Bands Forum, said she believed there had been "a concerted and organised attack on the marching band community".

"YouTube have taken the path of least resistance by simply removing these channels," she claimed.

She added that band members would not be deterred.

"To date, YouTube has not responded to the channel owners, who are disgusted that years of work can just be wiped out overnigh," she said.

"However, they are adamant that this will not stop them following their hobby, and those who wish to hinder the promotion of marching bands will not succeed in their mission."

TUV leader Jim Allister MLA claimed there had been an agenda against those who lost their accounts and said YouTube was guilty of "unwarranted censorship".

Cookstown Ulster Unionist councillor Trevor Wilson urged YouTube to reinstate the videos.

He said there was a lot of anger over their removal.

Belfast Telegraph

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