Every day around the world, content is being created and deleted in a never-ending cycle that mirrors our own circle of life. For the most part, the content that gets deleted from social media platforms, such as YouTube or Facebook, gets deleted for good reason. Sometimes the content is illegal or it violates community policy. But then sometimes content gets deleted for the wrong reasons, political reasons.
And when content gets deleted for political purposes, those affected are left crying foul and wondering what is it they did to earn their deletion. One need only look as far as Marihuana Television, a Spanish-language YouTube Channel, to find a perfect example.
For many Spanish-speaking cannabis users, Marihuana Television is their go-to source for all things cannabis. Featuring how-to guides and up-to-date news, Marihuana Television looks like any other mainstream YouTube channel but with cannabis; which is why many were shocked to find that the channel had been deleted with no explanation.
Although cannabis itself is illegal in most of the developed world, cannabis content is not. While you may not be able to purchase a cannabis ad on Facebook or YouTube; you can watch, create and share cannabis contently freely on the internet. On YouTube alone, there are hundreds of thousands of cannabis-centered channels, which is what makes Marihuana Television’s deletion all the more strange.
Typically in order to determine whether or not to ban/delete an account or channel, YouTube uses a strike system. If a user violates YouTube community standards or violates copyright law, the user will get a strike. Just like baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out; unless it’s a particularly egregious violation, in which case the user is instantly banned.
But by all accounts, Marihuana Television was compliant with YouTube policy. There was no warning and there were no strikes, the channel was simply deleted. The creative minds behind Marihuana Television think the channel’s deletion is part of a wider effort on behalf of YouTube to censor Spanish-language cannabis content on the platform, and in a statement, they issued a fiery condemnation of the site.
“From Marihuana Television we want to denounce cannabis censorship, freedom of expression and information after the closure of our channel. During the last 6 years, our Youtube channel has been a reference of information on the cannabis culture in Spanish,” reads the statement. “Therefore, Marihuana Television will continue to be faithful to its founding principles. We will keep fighting for the right to inform the millions of people throughout the world who use marijuana in a responsible way.”
Although tracking the exact number of cannabis videos and channels that have been unfairly deleted on YouTube is incredibly difficult, if not next to impossible, there is some anecdotal evidence to bolster the claims made by Marihuana Television.
Some Spanish-language cannabis YouTube channels similar to Marihuana Television, such as Growbarato and Lamarihuana.com, have found themselves either deleted or issued strikes from YouTube in recent weeks. Other channels, such as Undergrow TV, have issued their own statements condemning the censorship and some have started petitions asking YouTube to stop their censorship of cannabis-related videos.
Although the path forward for the people behind Marihuana Television is not entirely clear, the group is currently considering taking legal action if possible. For the time being, however, Marihuana Television will continue creating content, only this time it will be shared on Vimeo instead of YouTube.