The effects of YouTube are vast…probably much larger than the creators ever originally intended. Who knew that a 10 second user-generated video could develop such wild feedback and irreversible cultural change? These influences now stretch well beyond the realms of the United States, and although comical home videos still reign, the political and global influence of a 47 second video titled, “Questions for the future of Iraq,” can’t be ignored.
Some countries such as India, Turkey, Brazil, and China have banned or threatened to ban YouTube from entering their borders. Each of these countries, and more, have different responses to why they have decided to control this site, but the #1 reason seems to be offensive political clips. For instance, India threatened to ban YouTube after a clip of Gandhi pole dancing was released to the public. In 2006, Thailand quickly blocked the site after clips were released the mocked their sovereign king. The ban in both countries have since been lifted, but they could be placed again at the drop of a hat.
After reading these stories, YouTube has a rather negative connotation, but many campaigns that have begun on YouTube have also had an incredibly positive reaction. In June of 2004, an Australian named Juan Mann started the “Free Hugs Campaign”. The idea behind this campaign was to encourage physical contact and brighten a stranger’s day. It may seemed like a delirious idea at first, but after the footage from his campaign was posted on YouTube, it became a hit with over 56 million hits.
Without Juan Mann’s campaign embracing the use of the web and online video, places like Singapore, Switzerland, and Belgium would have never heard of it, and the response most likely would not have gone global.
Along the lines of campaigns that have been influenced by the use of YouTube is the peace platform calledPlaying for Change. The inspiration for it comes from the belief that, “music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people.” No doubt music has the power to do many great things, but to reach across borders it must be be given the oil for the engine, and in this case the oil is YouTube.
Each of these campaigns display the tip of the iceberg when focusing on the ways that YouTube has connected countries and connected voices. In Japan, YouTube just released their MLB channel, not fully accessible in the United States, that provides Japan with a way to watch full-length baseball games only 36 hours after the game has been completed. It also shows highlight reels from all over Japan. According to Kenny Gersh, senior vice president of business development for MLB, “These YouTube channels continue our efforts to bring MLB content to fans around the globe.”
On August 25, 2010, YouTube released four more languages supported by their script translator program. The four new tongues are Croatian, Filipino, Serbian and Slovak. This brings them to a grand total of 28 languages. Not only do these languages further a worldwide connection, but they allow YouTube to monitor more illegal content, such as forbidding Nazi content in Germany. This preemptive supervising should help in the future to prevent the site from being banned by other governments.
The official YouTube Blog that focuses on issues from all over the world is proof enough that this site is working towards connecting everyone, not just those here in the United States. Yes, it is connecting the nations, but it is also connecting the individuals. With YouTube available, everyone has a voice. There is no longer as much of a need to be of high political or social standing to speak and be heard.