YouTube recently blocked the channel of North Korean state television, due to American sanctions on the country. The ban could be a big blow to the country’s propaganda efforts—as well as those researching them.
As a report in the The Washington Post explains, North Korea’s YouTube channel wasn’t taken down because of the actual propaganda produced by a brutal dictatorship, but because North Korea could have made money from the videos though YouTube’s built-in advertising system. The sanctions were imposed after the US Treasury officials determined that North Korea’s Propaganda and Agitation Department engaged in censorship. It’s unclear whether North Korea was actually involved in the advertising program, but apparently, even the potential that North Korea could generate a few pennies of revenue is enough to get the channel banned.
“We don’t comment on individual videos or channels,” said Taj Meadows, head of communications in Asia for Google told The Post, “but we do disable accounts that violate our terms of service or community guidelines, and when we are required by law to do so.”
There seems to be at least some people genuinely disappointedly the shutdown of North Korea’s gaming and makeup tutorial channel: researchers who study North Korean propaganda. The channel was an invaluable asset as it provided some of the daily content aired on North Korean television. “This led to a better understanding of an event, even if the North Koreans tried to hide or spin a particular event as being a success when it may not have been,” researcher David Schmerler told The Post.
With Kim Jong Un’s dreams of being a vlog star dashed, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will have to look for new ways to disseminate its propaganda.