At the beginning of 2019, video sharing company YouTube announced several additions to the list of content that are banned. The Verge reported that added items include hacking and phishing tutorials. According to the media outline, the company took this step in line with an “apparent crackdown” on a certain channel
The new rule by YouTube included “instructional hacking and phishing” in its harmful or dangerous content page. The platform bans videos that show viewers “how to bypass secure computer systems or steal user credentials and personal data.”
Launched by Hacker Interchange, the channel in question tackles topics about internet security and ethical hacking. Hacker Interchange co-founder Kody Kinzie said that content currently uploaded on the channel Null Byte are “flagged and pulled.” He also noted that a “content strike” prevented them from uploading new videos.
The organization explains that it is committed to introducing computer science and security to beginners. To this end, it has been producing and posting instructional hacking video series called Cyber Weapons Lab.
Outrage over the strike
Kinzie, along with other users, noted that this new rule may be detrimental to viewers learning about computer security. It can also hinder individuals working to battle hacking and phishing techniques.
Professional testers and researchers practice ethical or “white hat” hacking to improve the security of their systems. This is also done by individuals who counter malicious activities related to cybersecurity.
While YouTube added the rule earlier this year, reports said that it has been striking hacking content prior to this.
Meanwhile, the information security community expressed support for Null Byte, according to ZDNet. One user pointed out that preventing videos from being uploaded can bring the “potential death for cybersecurity educational videos.”
People also pointed out that YouTube permits the posting of videos “depicting dangerous acts” if it is for EDSA purposes. EDSA stands for the educational, documentary, scientific or artistic.
YouTube retracts Cyber Weapons Lab ban
After the outrage from the infosec community, the company told The Verge that Null Bytes was “flagged by mistake.” According to a spokesperson, the number of content uploaded on the platform can make way for wrong calls. The representative also said that users can appeal for the reinstatement of their channel and posts.
In light of this, the company confirmed that Cyber Weapons Lab content was taken down in error. The series is now back on the site.
YouTube is known for erroneous moderation calls including the removal of anti-white supremacy content while taking down white supremacist ones.