The night of March 24, El Pitazo received a new sanction from YouTube against a video published by this media outlet. This was the third action in three months, which ended with the definitive closing of the account, which had 102,000 followers since December 8, 2014, and means the loss of six years of news archive in Venezuela.
The video that motivated the sanction was published on November 5, 2019. In the recording, a woman yelled at a kid and later hit another kid with a belt. The post avoided showing the faces of the victims.
Sharing that video, which went viral on social networks, allowed the Investigation Police to identified the woman, a preschool teacher, who later was sanctioned by the authorities.
YouTube said that the video violated its child safety policy which «prohibits content that puts minors at risk including areas such as unwanted sexualization, abuse, and harmful and dangerous acts,» its read in the e-mail sent to the Audiovisual Management of El Pitazo. «Your account received a third warning. So, your channel was permanently removed from YouTube.»
It is true. The message of March 24 was the third penalty in three months. The first occurred on January 25, when El Pitazo published a video in which Nicolás Maduro, who conduct the Executive power in Venezuela -despite the rejection of 60 countries- informed in national broadcasting about the production of a miracle drops of Carvatir as a treatment against the COVID-19 and stated that the product had all the health permits in the country. In the appeal to this measure, the audiovisual department from El Pitazo included ten links to international media that also published the announcement of Maduro but did not receive a penalty.
The second penalty was reported less than ten days later, on February 3. It was the news video showing a double suicide bomb attack in a Baghdad market. The piece had been published 15 days before the sanction. That same content was broadcast by many YouTube channels of other media, which did not receive any sanction from the platform.
We checked more than 8,000 videos to avoid other sanctions.
The Audiovisual Management from El Pitazo initiated a checking process of more than 8,000 videos published in the channel since its beginning, trying to verify the compliance with YouTube regulations and avoid the risk of a third sanction that could harm the medium.
Now, the new sanction against this Venezuelan media is due to a video published one year and nine months ago that had more than 1,000 views at that time, without the platform made any warning.
It is striking that the archive of a channel is searched until an audiovisual content, published in November 2019, gets found that is susceptible to being denounced.
In all the cases, we proceeded to appeal the decision of the company from Google. However, all responses were impersonal and negatives, as if the interaction was in the hands of Artificial Intelligence.
El Pitazo warns about this situation to prevent this practice from becoming a pattern through which organizations or individuals take advantage of YouTube’s rules to exploit them in favor of censorship and anonymity. The modus operandi would consist of denouncing the contents that, upon being sanctioned up to three times, suffer the permanent closure of their channels. In this way, YouTube would be a useful fool of censorship attempts that could spread throughout the world.
We fight against censorship and blockade
These actions, taken unilaterally by YouTube, are another obstacle to face censorship and information freedom. We also want to warn about the danger that implies the promotion of censorship and freedom of speech, especially in the Venezuelan context, where several blockade mechanisms are already implementing against the media. Also is a frustrating measure to the more than 50 correspondent from El Pitazo, who report in videos what is happening in Venezuela, as the team that producing and editing the audiovisual material.
We believe it is important to alert and prevent colleagues from other media that the action against El Pitazo could be replicating on their portals.
Since December 8 of 2014, we have been fighting against censorship and defending the freedom of information. Our mission was to produce audiovisual content that television in Venezuela cannot or do not want to broadcast.
Since September 2017, four domains of our website have been blocking by telecommunication operators management in Venezuela.
Besides, our reporters have been harassing by regional and municipal authorities in different states of the country. Our crime: doing our work with passion and commitment.
But thanks to our efforts, we receive the support and solidarity of Venezuelans, who understand our mission, and continues supporting us in our struggle. Additionally, we won national and international awards, such as Ortega y Gasset, Ipys, and El Gabo. In all three cases for journalistic works of multimedia format, which included videos published on our penalized YouTube channel.
Everyone in El Pitazo will continue fighting for free and independent journalism, despite all the obstacles imposes in a context such as Venezuela. And now, the difficulties imposed by large corporations that act under the anonymity of an algorithm.
With their actions, these corporations served the purposes of the communication hegemony sought by the government of Nicolás Maduro.
Count you, estimated users, with our commitment to raising, once again, what we have said from day one: El Pitazo sounds where others are silent.