Video sharing sites such as the popular Google Video, YouTube and Yahoo are proving popular at an ever increasing rate. However do these companies have a moral obligation to review and block or delete certain material? This I know is a hotly debated topic and one that is difficult to have an answer for.
While the Internet should in my opinion be an uncensored and free expression community; I think that pure morality should prevail in regards to certain material. I think it is agreed universally that this applies to inappropriate pictures and videos of children. In regards to pornography I think that while the material is openly and freely available the accessibility of the material to minors is far too easy. That said; the primary responsibility for ensuring that minors are blocked access to such material lies squarely at the feet of parents.
Parents often blame the Internet or the web sites for offering inappropriate material where in actual fact they are not doing anything to monitor what their children watch, read or listen to. For example; I would not let my three year old wander the video shop and hire any movie that he wanted or picked up. There would even be some covers I would rather he did not see. Nor would I let him watch anything on television that he wanted to. I monitor it and I decide what I believe is appropriate or not. So I do not know why parents view the Internet any differently than these other mediums. Then when their children do see something or watch something on the Internet that they do not want them to see or that they think is inappropriate they blame the content provider or they blame the government or they blame anything/ anyone else other then themselves; where where they when their 12 year old was surfing porn sites? That rant out of the way that is not the purpose of this post but it is associated with it.
Last night I read an article that talked about video that was posted to YouTube and Google and such that featured dangerous stunts resulting in serious injury. I did not know that this type of material was available on YouTube or Google. So I went looking and fair enough I found some. I am not going to give the search term or the url, but I have included a screen shot to give you an idea. But what I saw was very disturbing not so much on a basic human level but more on a professional level. I saw an individual of about 12 or 13 years of age “playing” with home made “dry-ice” bombs. When one of the devices did not explode, he kicked it twice and threw it once then picked it up again at which point it exploded. Given my professional opinion and the following footage, I would say that he now has no hand from the forearm down.
The video that I saw is tragic. It featured arterial blood squirting on the wall and a closeup of the arm; what was left of it. The reaction of the camera operator was less than helpful as no attempt was made to do anything, it was almost like they did not expect any sort of injury let alone a serious one. I can tell you that I am a Registered Nurse, I work in an operating theatre. This injury is very serious and tragic. This young person has lost a limb, will require surgery and more after the incident. The injury sustained could be fatal if they were not given first aid and taken to hospital as soon as possible. They may get a serious infection that will result in loss of more of the limb than the injury inflicted. To say that this individual will be affected for the rest of their life is an understatement. Make no mistake some of these clips are violent and graphic in the extreme. How is it then at all possible that this is entertainment?
Don’t go dropping comments on this blog about such things as educational as far as what not to do. Or that I am being sensitive and just don’t watch it if it affects you that much. That is all bullshit. Just because the Internet provides a medium for people to post material such as pranks and accidents does not mean that it should be done or that it should be available to just anyone. Yes I know that people have been doing stuff like this for a long time if not since the dawn of time but have they been taking out page 3 of the newspaper to “advertise” their exploits, and I wonder if that would be socially acceptable. I think not, so I am at a loss as to why it is here in this community. Why do we class the loss of a limb in a young boy as entertainment, or worthy to be placed on Google or YouTube, when clearly we should be lamenting and asking why?
I would argue that it has to do with many factors such as the very aspect of the Internet that is appealing, the freedom that individuals have to express their point of view or their opinion or their art or whatever they wish to. That does not make all things right, just because we can does not mean we always should. Strangely within our society there is a morbid curiosity to see things that are tragic or taboo. Things such as dead bodies, accidents, crash scenes and the like. Further there are many sites on the Internet dedicated to such things. This is a human trait, don’t know why but it is, strange that we are so interested in our own self destructiveness. Nothing regarding this issue is going to change anytime soon, I know that.
The article that I read did go on to speculate that people would copy stupid acts and put themselves at risk. That is a reach as these things are going to happen all by themselves, they don’t need “inspiration”. I would question the ability for individuals to obtain a forum to publicise it. But again to question that is to begin to question the fabric of the Internet. Dangerous territory; do we want our Google web searches to look like China’s?
Individuals need to remember, when they see tragic incidents; these things are not easy fixed, broken bones can be fatal, loss of a limb can be fatal, injury can be fatal period; even the things that appear minor. These actions and incidents have repercussions, it would seem that young people and some adults seem to be incapable of foreseeing seeing what “could” happen.
My conclusion then, is that based on the pure tragic nature of these incidents that video sharing websites have a moral obligation not to show or restrict this content on the Internet. Then that would be in the face of my own argument wouldn’t it, that’s the parents job right? It might even be strange for some people to think that I feel that way. If anything it should not be so easily accessible for minors who certainly can not see the repercussions of their actions. It is debatable as to why adults “need” to see it either other than to satisfy the “morbid curiosity” factor. Further; how do we gauge what is acceptable and what is not and then where do we draw the line. I am not shouting for censorship or restriction, nor am I appealing to better nature. More that we should start to question and debate the reason as to why this content is available. What good does it serve, who is the audience? There is a line but where it is I do not know. How do we monitor content while maintaining the very nature of the Internet, one of freedom of expression. That which makes the Internet what it is.