Sunday, January 22, 2006

Guardian is shocked to find violence on the internet.

Internet: At least on Google Video. Wait till they find out about goatse and for all that is good in the world, do not go searching for that at work or home. Look it up on wikipedia to be somewhat safe.

"It was to have marked the dawn of a new age in entertainment, a democracy where the home movie went hand in hand with the Hollywood classic and where film and TV shows were available at the click of a mouse. The Google Video Store offers users the chance to download everything from basketball games to amateur videos to musty episodes of The Brady Bunch or I Love Lucy. But some of its wares are less savoury than others. Launched last week by the internet search giant, Google Video claims that its "user-generated" content is carefully vetted by both human and software-based censors. However, the new website, video.google.com, currently hosts a number of home movies that contain explicit scenes of apparently non-simulated violence. The company's stated terms of service prohibit films involving "invasions of personal privacy" and "promotions of hate or incitement of violence". One home movie, "Black Dudes Fighting", features a bloody, bare-knuckle brawl between two men in a backyard. Another, boasting the long-winded title "Girls Fighting Punching Kicking Chick Fights Cat Fight", is a 17-minute film of violent altercations, with the combatants egged on by a crowd of onlookers. At the end of one brawl, a teenage girl appears to have been knocked unconscious. Google refused to comment on any problems with its service. "That is not stuff that we want to engage in," a spokesperson for the company said. "Google Video only launched last week and is still in a trial period. Because of that, it is still too early to talk about what we've got right and what we've got wrong." While Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft have all announced plans for a downloadable film service, Google's scheme is regarded as the most far-reaching. Described as a giant internet bazaar, it is open to everyone from Hollywood distributors and TV broadcasters to the amateur camera-phone owner. Some of its films are copy-protected and others are not. Some are free and others must be paid for, with the price set by the owner. "If it all sounds a bit chaotic, you're right," wrote David Pogue in the New York Times. "Google Video's hallmark is its wild inconsistency ... at the moment the site is appallingly half-baked."
First time I agree with someone from the Times, compared to a couple of other video sites, Google video is worthless in finding anything that has to do with what you put in the search field. It doesn't feel easy to use and after a while you just give up. Youtube.com on the hand sorta gets it with the previews, an okay search engine where you are able to sort the videos various ways to find something.

That said the shocking tone of their findings is amusing considering a quick look at the videos they are talking about, some of them have been on the net last couple of years. It would be linked on forums or sent around emails, but now with the video sites, people just upload them to be viewed.

The question of how much to police its open-door policy risks becoming a vexed issue for Google. Some experts suggest that any selection process could undermine the key strength of the company. "The image that Google wants to present is that it is fully democratic, a fully open platform," said Jerome Buvat, senior consultant at Cap Gemini Telecom, Media and Entertainment. "Google is basically the spirit of the internet. I can't see that they will want to change that." But the issue was raised again last week after it emerged that Google lists the British National Party as a trustworthy source on its news page. The search engine's implied endorsement of the BNP website has already been criticised by anti-racist groups. The company states that the sources on Google News are "compiled solely by computer algorithms, without human intervention. As a result, news sources are selected without regard to political viewpoint or ideology". But although Google News provides an aggregate of headlines from around the world, experts are sceptical that it is entirely automated. For its part, Google has consistently refused to explain how it decides which sources are acceptable and which are not.
There are a lot of objectionable sites on Google News, not just the BNP. But if you are going to be the end all of end all of "news" sources, some are going to slip thru the cracks. If you start banning, Google will end up with thousands of request to make a judgement on which sites should be banned. The same goes with Google Video, if its going to be the virtual street bazaar of videos, they are not all going to be to the liking of everyone. If Google starts to curb strongly, some other site will get popular by net users.

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