Miro Internet TV Blog

Perez Hilton’s Account Yanked by YouTube

December 19th, 2007 by Dean Jansen

Blogger Perez Hilton recently had his YouTube account suspended, only to create a second account that was also disabled. Kent Nichols (of Ask a Ninja) has a great overview of the situation.

This is a very high profile example of what can happen when one video host has a near monopoly. If this seems like an overstatement, think of how your friends search for videos on the internet; I bet that a good portion of them go directly to YouTube, make their search, find (or don’t find) what they wanted, and watch (or don’t watch) the video. It’s a very common cycle, and it’s not very good for creators or viewers; this cycle puts YouTube in a position to dictate who has access to the largest video viewing audience in the world.

Looking closer at this cycle, we see that it roots from a single entity controlling both the video hosting and aggregation. To put it another way, a single organization, when in control of the creator and the viewer, becomes a gatekeeper. Under these circumstances, no matter how well intentioned a corporation seems, it will eventually be compelled to use the position to its advantage; it’s something we see all the time in traditional media.

In order to sidestep this problem, the creator must be free to choose any video host, and still retain her viewing audience.The key lies in open standards; they’re what make the web (websites, blogs, home pages, etc) work so well. Video should be just the same — the viewer shouldn’t need to know which host a creator published her video to, in order to watch it.

Open platforms, such as blip.tv (for creators) and Miro (for viewers), are a critical piece of the solution. Because both of these examples are built on open standards, they inter-operate with everything else in the open ecosystem. YouTube seems intimidatingly large, until you compare it to all of the open alternatives on the web.

We, along with the folks at blip, have decided to reach out to Perez. We’ll do our best to convince him to publish in a fashion that puts him back in control of his videos.

9 Responses to “Perez Hilton’s Account Yanked by YouTube”

  1. Paul Kim says:

    this is a great, immediately understandable story about why it’s important we don’t replicate the structures of broadcast TV oligopolies online. thanks for posting this dean.

  2. Kari Jalonen says:

    Call me a spoilsport, but I find your post one-sided enough to take offence.

    Perez Hilton has raised a lot of objections for violating photographers’, broadcasters’ and fellow gossipmongers’ copyright on his blog, and his celebrity gossip business gets him a lot of criticism from his subjects as well.

    Although he says that he hasn’t received any notification of why he was suspended, I can think of a few reasons for this. It would have been the least you could have done to mention the controversies surrounding PH in your post: not every suspension is censorship.

    I’m sure Perez Hilton can get his voice heard outside Youtube as well (does he have a channel on Miro already?), if they don’t want the traffic and the flak his videos creates.

    The nicest part of independent media is the chance to get a more balanced view on the world. Wave the flag of independent broadcasting, but keep your brain tuned while you do it.

    Thanks for a wonderful media platform,

    Kari J.

  3. Dean Jansen says:


    The important part of this post isn’t why PH was suspended, it’s the fact that he was suspended without reason (twice). If a high profile user is treated so poorly, you can bet that all of the tens of thousands of lower profile users aren’t handled any more gently. None of this would matter if YouTube weren’t the sole entity allowing and barring access to their massive audience.

    A different example: there are a lot of people who post questionable material on the internet. If their Host/ISP tells them their account is suspended, they can go to a different Host/ISP and still keep operating as normal. While I’m not advocating that people should be able to illegally post anything they want to the internet, I am arguing that having YouTube as the sole arbiter of what is and isn’t legitimate is a huge mistake.


  4. [...] not a particular fan of (that particular brand of) celebrity gossip. However, as noted in several places this is a straightforward, clear, example of the power of media oligopolies, and the [...]

  5. Kari Jalonen says:


    Thanks for your polite response. I agree with you on the main point: we are poorly served by the lack of several strong video platforms.

    It seems Youtube have chosen not to comment on single user bans. I understand their willingness to avoid bad publicity, especially since there are no widely accepted and transparent ways of proving misconduct (esp. without using the banned videos). This is the second point of view I wanted to bring out with my previous comment.

    I don’t thing I’d call Youtube’s dominant market position a “mistake”: it isn’t something that was planned or that can be changed with a single decision. It seems that the new media environment is prone to being dominated by a single service at a time; think social networking apps, search engines, web auction platforms or, to an extent, book stores.

    The Web isn’t planned. It can be regulated to weed out the worst of the undergrowth, but as of now the best way to steer this avalanche is through building new services and keeping up the discussion. Lets hope and see. Maybe syndicating services are the next big thing – they would seem, at least, to avoid this particular problem while providing a richer media environment with even more strong voices (and probably its own set of problems).


  6. Dean Jansen says:


    I appreciate your insight and like being challenged on my positions… keeps me on my toes.

    I agree that the makeup of the new media landscape wasn’t particularly planned and that it can’t be altered with a single decision. But I do think that we have a direct influence on the market. PCF’s core strategy rests on the notion that we have the power to change our environment by providing people with compelling tools to engage their media.

    YouTube’s dominance isn’t a mistake per-se, but I do think it would be a mistake to sit by and just watch Google’s dominance grow even stronger. I’m pretty sure we’re on the exact same page here… you say, “the best way to steer this avalanche is through building new services and keeping up the discussion.” That is essentially what we’re trying to do.

    I probably come off as a YouTube hater. I’m not so hot on some of their policies, and I’m made uncomfortable by their relative size/dominance, but I really do appreciate how they pushed internet video to the next level. That said, video can be better still! When I think about how cool video could be, I get pretty enthusiastic about all the projects that are promoting this more decentralized media space.

    I realize that it’s much more complex than open vs closed, centralized vs decentralized, or profit vs non-profit, so I’ll avoid getting tripped up by the intricacies of the market. Simply put, we (PCF) are doing what we can to make ‘open’ more appealing and profitable than ‘closed.’


  7. Mike R. says:

    Youtube’s user agreement and air of authority is so convoluted, that it is easy to be intimidated by the threat of being sued, even when there is substantial proof that say, an audio was recorded by creditialed indepedent media.

    Jerry Lewis went after me for posting an audio of a protest in Chicago where he used a ton of anti-disability epithets. his “manager” sent me a cease and desist, and i guess was fired himself for trying to extort a kickback from newsweek for an interview.

    I like archive.org and google video, but even with youtube having completely draconian rules, you cant buy the publicity a top rated video brings…

    a cripple video anarchist who should start a miro channel soon.

    Mike R.

  8. carl says:

    My 2 videos were removed by Youtube too ! And also with the threat of termination of my account ( including the many hours invested in emailing my other YouTube videos and my Favourites and Playlists ) if I have a 3rd video removed ! JailTube ? BlueTube?

  9. Patrick says:

    So what was the topic of these videos? I think it’s questionable if you don’t say what it was about if you complain here ;)

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