The Politics of YouTube

Even though I am not an American, I followed the Democratic primary quite closely. I was intrigued by the character and the behavior of the front runners. I was especially interested in observing how they both utilized new media like YouTube. If the contest had been about YouTube popularity, Obama would have won much sooner and with a huge margin. That difference didn’t interest me that much because it was a simple matter of demographics.

I was fascinated by the evolution of comment moderation. I feel that Team Obama had a edge with that. Both sides moderated comments on the majority of videos, with a few exceptions.

Figuring out a comment moderation policy based on the ones that get approved is quite an exercise in conjecture. Based on my observations, the moderators at HillaryClintondotcom generally only allowed positive commentary while their counterparts at BarrackObamadotcom tended to approve comments that created the appearance of an open discussion. At first, I thought they should allow comments to appear without prior approval, but I changed my mind when I looked at the level of discussion elsewhere on YouTube. I am still frustrated because it seems like the approval process on an individual video is abandoned once it is a few days old.

Hillary Clinton at this point only has six videos that have more than 100 comments. A dozen Obama videos have more than 1000 comments each. ‘A More Perfect Union’ has nearly 10,000 comments.

Now that Obama has shifted focus to the general election, it appears that there has also been a slight shift in comment moderation policy. The folks with their fingers on the approval buttons seem to be more willing to approve moronic and vicious comments because now they come predominantly from Republicans and they are just making themselves look bad.

To save my readers some time, here is an example of an critical comment that was approved by Barack Obama’s official YouTube channel:

Shame on you, Barack Obama! You just destroyed the only hope of restraining already obscene Presidential campaign costs. You’ve made it clear that you’d rather bludgeoning McCain with TV ads rather than engage him in debates or other free mediums. How can? you refuse millions in public money to ask for MORE from the very supporters you acknowledge are hurting so badly??? You call that “change?” I gave money to you in the primary, but you won’t see a dime from me again.

Here is one for Hillary on her channel

Long Live Hillary Clinton! The true president of the people. I hope to be able to vote for you soon as candidate? for the democratic party in 2016! I campaign all i could all i went overboard for this campaign. So Hillary I thank you for running I am sadden for you not being president in 2008. Hillary we all supporters did these for you campaign and we pledge our vote to you and we did not see the candidate we wanted but Hillary we love you!

The Obama video that drew the sample comment currently has about 580 comments, while the Hillary video has 7.

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