A glance online: Is YouTube still ‘giving everyone a voice?’

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, September 12th, 2018 at 5:07 PM

Lucky 13. Merely 13 years ago YouTube was brought to life in San Mateo, California by three young founders (Jawed Karim, Steve Chen and Chad Hurley). The driving force behind the innovative tool, according to the founders, is “to give everyone a voice and show them the world.” In addition, YouTube was structured under four values that guide the instrument. Today, there are over 1 billion users on YouTube, which is an outstanding 1/3 of the internet. Therefore, due to the wide impact YouTube has had in our society, I believe it is imperative to evaluate the values and purpose of its creation so we can better understand the ever growing device glowing on our phone screens.  

The first value is “Freedom of Expression,” which is described as: “We believe people should be able to speak freely, share opinions, foster open dialogue, and that creative freedom leads to new voices, formats and possibilities.” This belief has been deep-seeded in the U.S. culture from its origin, yet, YouTube has spun the original meaning to include online expression of thoughts. Ruminate on your use of YouTube in the last 48 hours; how many videos did you watch where someone is addressing views of their own? Moreover, when looking through the comments on those types of videos, do you see a distant following for the creator and another group of people who dislike or disagree with the speaker’s opinion. The community which is formed out of these videos is the epitome of expression.  

The second value is “Freedom of Information,” which is intended as: “We believe everyone should have easy, open access to information and that video is a powerful force for education, building understanding, and documenting world events, big and small.” This aspect of YouTube has grown progressively in terms of “how to” and instructional videos, which many of us rely on day-to-day to complete tasks. Thus, the evolution of this value has grown from just stating knowledge in a matter-of-fact way to interactive communication regarding a variety of skills.   

The third value is “Freedom of Opportunity,” and in the eyes of the creators, means: “We believe everyone should have a chance to be discovered, build a business and succeed on their own terms, and that people — not gatekeepers — decide what’s popular.” Upon its foundation, You Tube was made to respect inclusivity and be an open platform to engage others in this type of mass media. Socially, this value has shaped into an outlet for individuals who are seeking refuge from various strong point of views, such as political stances and popular culture.  

The fourth value is “Freedom to Belong,” and it indicates: “We believe everyone should be able to find communities of support, break down barriers, transcend borders and come together around shared interests and passions.” Due to YouTube being international, the ability to bond and create valuable human relationships over this stage is a reality and very much a part of the YouTube experience. So, not only is this value about enriching populations, but it also has transformed into creating categories amongst others, which can divide and reduce the idea of belonging in groups. 

Conclusively, YouTube has no doubt erupted in our society and filled voids of information, belongingness, opportunity and expression. When you are scrolling through your feed, keep in mind the values and mission the founders of YouTube set up 13 years ago. Do you think they have achieved their goals? Upload a YouTube video answering this question and see what spirals.  

Joallie Palchuk can be reached at voices.spectator@gmail.com

Tags: voices, youtube

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