<synthesis> Oliver Ressler's political art videos taken off YouTube

Geert Lovink geert at xs4all.nl
Tue Aug 10 13:21:25 CEST 2021

From: Oliver Ressler <oliver at ressler.at>

Hi all,

On August 2, 2021 YouTube deleted my entire YouTube Channel without any prior warning or communication. The email from YouTube reads: 
“We have reviewed your content and found severe or repeated violations of our Community Guidelines. Because of this, we have removed your channel from YouTube. [...] Spam, scams or commercially deceptive content are not allowed on YouTube.”

The videos YouTube removed constitute an archive of 31 films I made between 2000 and 2018. These are films shown hundreds of times in exhibitions, film festivals and social movement contexts. They have appeared in several biennials and in museums such as the Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.

I immediately appealed the removal of my YouTube Channel, following the recommended steps. Since then I have received no further response from YouTube. Meanwhile, https://www.youtube.com/c/oliverresslerfilms <http://xhloq.mjt.lu/lnk/ANEAAKrR2NYAAcp6HpgAATG_5SsAAYCrwnwAJU16ABRC7gBhEkQAdQJl74qrT7OBKshSVAaqLgAUIX0/1/b9VvziNOoj0MZIHGvWWknw/aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cueW91dHViZS5jb20vYy9vbGl2ZXJyZXNzbGVyZmlsbXM> remains offline.

I began making complete films available on my webpage and on Vimeo many years ago, but for a long time I was reluctant to involve YouTube as an additional online platform. I felt uncomfortable about using a Google-controlled platform for films centered on a critique of capitalism, climate breakdown, forms of organizing and resistance.

When I set up my YouTube Channel in 2020, mid-pandemic, I did so for strategic reasons. YouTube is not only the world’s largest video platform, it is also the second-largest search engine. I hoped it might constitute a way to reach people who neither visit art exhibitions nor are politically organized.

But whether algorithmically or by direct human intervention, YouTube has now declared my work a “scam”, slapping the epithet on a body of work that often focuses critically corporate scams and builds an archive of democratic organization.

I am not astonished that YouTube shut down my channel, but I am angry.

They shut down a platform summarily then afterwards pretend to offer an appeal process. This is like carrying out a punishment first, and only then offering the penalized the opportunity to appeal afterwards.

Just how seriously Google takes the right to appeal is laid bare here by the lack of any response from one of the world's richest corporations after more than seven days. They know very well that they operate in a lawless field skewed in their favor.

What YouTube is engaged in here is outright political censorship. They make use of their de facto monopoly to act as they please.

Censorship is nothing new to me. I have experienced it in various forms over the years. What is different this time is that the censor is not a state or province, but a private entity. That a corporation is allowed to be in a position to censor says a lot about the lack of democratic oversight in the global media industry. 

I believe democratic oversight will only ever be achieved by collectivizing Google. And yes, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and all the rest as well of course. This is a necessary step to regain control over our lives.

In the meantime, if you see value in having these films available on YouTube again, please consider sharing this through your networks, tagging YouTube. Concerted public opposition is the only power that will make them reverse their decision, the one thing that could ever influence their future actions.

There are two texts on this case:

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/oliver-ressler-s-youtube-account-suspended <http://xhloq.mjt.lu/lnk/ANEAAKrR2NYAAcp6HpgAATG_5SsAAYCrwnwAJU16ABRC7gBhEkQAdQJl74qrT7OBKshSVAaqLgAUIX0/2/wsXfD8KirJ3hJgyIb-iOmg/aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cudGhlYXJ0bmV3c3BhcGVyLmNvbS9uZXdzL29saXZlci1yZXNzbGVyLXMteW91dHViZS1hY2NvdW50LXN1c3BlbmRlZA>
https://www.artmagazine.cc/content116380.html?fbclid=IwAR2xd2Bclxb307ZcgshOwCGOgrOSe84Z5qIzU4CZOqifKIPuzh1CY1T3TCU# <http://xhloq.mjt.lu/lnk/ANEAAKrR2NYAAcp6HpgAATG_5SsAAYCrwnwAJU16ABRC7gBhEkQAdQJl74qrT7OBKshSVAaqLgAUIX0/3/Mg5VIIT7NEgnH8WIlJOjHQ/aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuYXJ0bWFnYXppbmUuY2MvY29udGVudDExNjM4MC5odG1sP2ZiY2xpZD1Jd0FSMnhkMkJjbHhiMzA3WmNnc2hPd0NHT2dyT1NlODRaNXFJelU0Q1pPcWlmS0lQdXpoMUNZMVQzVENVIw#>
Best wishes

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