Thursday, October 12, 2006

YouTube blew it.

Robert Cox writes that the Right is losing the internet, citing the fact that Michelle Malkin was booted off YouTube.
Some might note that Malkin can still host her videos elsewhere. Of course she can, but that would fail to understand the powerful forces of “network externalities” at play online. There is no Avis to eBay’s Hertz for good reason: Once an online network is fully catalyzed, there is no reason to join an alternative network. If you want to get the most money for your Beanie Baby collection, you are going to want access to the most potential bidders — and that means eBay.

YouTube is poised to become the eBay of video file sharing. If you want the biggest audience for your video, you want access to the most potential viewers — and that means YouTube.
The problem with this argument is that YouTube's value will be vastly diminished if it becomes know as a partisan website or a voice only for the left. If eBay became known for fraudulent sellers, it would disappear, and it knows it. If YouTube, which presents itself as a vehicle for free speech by "the little guy," continues to label controversial speech as "offensive" and blocks it, it will find itself in a subset of the total market for its services. This move against Malkin is a big mistake. It makes YouTube look hypocritical and ideological rather than a true free speech vehicle.

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