PewDiePie, racism and Youtube’s neoliberalist interpretation of freedom of speech

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Abstract

How and why the social limits of racist speech have become obscure and ‘outdated’ for a YouTube star PewDiePie and his over 100 million fans? How have the policies of YouTube affected the general understanding of the limits of racist discourse in the digital media context? In this article, I argue that the case of PewDiePie shows how YouTube exercises a neoliberalist understanding of freedom of speech. In my analysis, I contextualise PewDiePie’s own comments and YouTube’s publications into the history of Internet culture and introduce the development of YouTube into a neoliberalist sphere. I illustrate how neoliberal ideology is now implemented on three levels on YouTube: through creating an illusion of intimacy between a creator and his/her fans, through the promise of equal opportunity on YouTube and through a neoliberalist interpretation of the marketplace-of-ideas principle. The analysis reveals how YouTube’s policies and practices as ideological choices contribute to the normalisation of racism on social media.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCONVERGENCE: THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF RESEARCH INTO NEW MEDIA TECHNOLOGIES
Volume27
Issue number1
Early online date21 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Equality of opportunity, freedom of speech, history of the Internet, intimacy, neoliberalism, political correctness, racism, vloggers, YouTube

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