The YouTube community was thrown into chaos Wednesday as the company rolled out a new policy intended to prohibit discriminatory content. A dozen prominent channels run by far-right influencers were demonetized and a few white nationalists had their accounts outright banned.
One channel, however, run by a history teacher named Scott Allsop, based in Romania, was mistakenly banned for hosting archival footage of Nazi propaganda that was used for educational purposes.
“My stomach fell,” Allsop told BuzzFeed News via email. “I’m a history teacher, not someone who promotes hatred. I share archive footage and study materials to help students learn about the past.”
Allsop launched his original educational resource channel in 2006. He recently started a new channel specifically for archival footage, which included newsreel footage of Hitler’s speeches. That’s the channel that was banned Wednesday.
“The clips channel ended up with about 120 videos when it was taken down,” he said.
The channel was replaced Wednesday afternoon with the message: "This account has been terminated due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube's policy prohibiting hate speech."
Hours later, after this story was initially published, the channel was restored.
"After a review of your account, we have confirmed that your YouTube account is not in violation of our Terms of Service," YouTube said in a message to Allsop. "As such, we have unsuspended your account. This means your account is once again active and operational.”
In the weeks leading up to Wednesday’s ban, Allsop said he had received several automated sensitive content warnings from YouTube support.
“I had every intention of appealing each of these since the videos, especially in the context of the rest of the channel, were clearly for educational purposes,” he said. “However I’ve been really busy preparing my students for exams so was waiting until a quieter time to do so.”
YouTube’s policy announcement on Wednesday identified several kinds of videos now prohibited on the platform. “This would include, for example, videos that promote or glorify Nazi ideology, which is inherently discriminatory. Finally, we will remove content denying that well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, took place,” the company explained in a blog post.
As the policy started to take effect Wednesday, creators started tweeting screenshots of emails from YouTube notifying them that they were in violation of the new policy.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to YouTube for more clarity on how the new policy is being rolled out.
“I felt frustrated that years of work collating and uploading material had disappeared in a snap, and then an enormous sense of disappointment for the students around the world studying the 20th Century History [General Certificate of Secondary Education] who I know will be using my site ahead of their exam on Tuesday and now can’t access any of those clips,” Allsop said.