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'Time to Move to Pornhub': Outrage Online as YouTube Semi-Bans 'Instructional Hacking' Videos

© AP Photo / Danny Moloshok This 21 October 2015 file photo shows signage inside the YouTube Space LA offices in Los Angeles.
 This 21 October 2015 file photo shows signage inside the YouTube Space LA offices in Los Angeles.  - Sputnik International
The policy update has already affected content creators, including cybersecurity experts posting videos looking to educate users on how malicious hacking takes place in order to help close up common information security gaps.

YouTube has issued a content policy update featuring a list of "harmful or dangerous content" including "instructional hacking and phishing" which critics say effectively bars users from posting an array of valuable cybersecurity-related content.

Kody Kinzie, a security researcher and educator who posts content for an infosec channel known as Cyber Weapons Lab, picked up on the rules, which have formally been on the books since earlier this year, after an instructional video about how to launch fireworks over Wi-Fi for the 4th of July celebrations was given a strike "because we teach about hacking". Several of the channel's other WiFi hacking videos were also reportedly flagged or subject to review.

The strike was lifted amid an expression of support from the channel's community of viewers. However, it prompted the YouTuber to express concerns about the apparent attempt at censorship. "I'm worried for everyone that teaches about infosec and tries to fill in the gaps for people who are learning. It is hard, often boring, and expensive to learn cybersecurity," he wrote.

Tim Erlin, vice president of product management at the cybersecurity firm Tripwire told IT news resource The Register that YouTube's apparent broad-brush ban attempt was a mistake.

"In cybersecurity, we improve our defences by understanding how attacks actually work," he said.

"Theoretical explanations are often not the most effective tools, and forcing content creators onto platforms restricted in distribution, like a paid training course, simply creates roadblocks to the industry. Sharing real-world examples brings more people to the industry, rather than creating more criminals," Erlin stressed.

Dale Ruane, a cybersecurity specialist who runs a penetration testing tutorial channel known as DemmSec, said that while the policy has existed in some form or another for a long time, he also "personally noticed a lot more people having issues where videos are being taken down" lately.

Calling the policy language "far too broad", the expert suggested the policy seemed "extremely hypocritical from a company (Google) that has a history of embracing 'hacker' culture and claims to have the goal of organising the world's information".

The video sharing giant's change in policy was met with heavy criticism from others online, with some echoing Kinzie's concerns and calling the policy "incredibly disappointing," while others wrote that it may be time for users to move to other video platforms.

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