On May 26th, 2020, LBRY Inc. was contacted by e-mail to comment on some public statements on Twitter. They responded two days later, on May 28th. Both messages are being posted here in full. Only private information has been redacted:
I’m a user on your platform with both an imported YouTube account and a second created account:
I recently published a video where I reviewed LBRY alongside some other sites, and generally had many positive things to say about it. I provide the following link for reference:
Following the publication of this video, however, I was contacted by some of my viewers bout a series of messages posted to your public Twitter account, namely these:
The implications I took away from these exchanges have made me adjust my opinion of LBRY somewhat, and I will be making a followup video to express that fact. I would like to include a comment from you, if you choose to give one. I want to assure you, I’ve gone through this thread in detail, so I’m aware of the accusations that have been made, and your responses to them. I’m also aware of LBRY’s architecture and the safeguards that exist with regard to censorship. My questions are not related to these points.
My concerns are more related to the fact that LBRY Inc seems to be, albeit obliquely, accusing Bit Chute Ltd (the operator of the Bitchute platform) of having a tacitly antisemitic editorial position with regard to their platform’s content. It’s worth pointing out that Bitchute is a direct competitor to LBRY in the alternative video hosting space, and as such LBRY Inc would stand to benefit if Bitchute was censured or otherwise restricted from doing business over allegations of this nature. Was it the intention of LBRY Inc or any of its staff to accuse Bit Chute Ltd of tacit endorsement of, or support for antisemitism when it commented “If your problem with YouTube is that it’s too “Zionist”, please, stay on @bitchute”? If not, could your clarify your statement?
Further to that, you commented that “Bitchute seems to go out of it’s way to court stuff like this (found on the front page in under a minute)”. My understanding is that Bitchute does not employ algorithms to filter, boost, or deboost content. Videos that appear on their front page exist entirely by virtue of user activity. In light of that, does LBRY consider the existence of content on a platform itself to mean endorsement of that content by the platform?
You commented that “They court it by knowing it’s there…and not denouncing it or replying when a racist explicitly tags them as a place to go be racist” and also “Because ignoring it is how people begin to think it is okay”. This implies that LBRY believes a failure to denounce an idea is morally equivalent to support for that idea. Does this accurately reflect the position of LBRY Inc or its staff? Also, is it the position of LBRY Inc or its staff that the operators of a platform have a responsibility to maintain an editorial position regarding otherwise legal content posted to that platform?
Lastly, LBRY frequently advertises that its protocol and open source nature provides a safeguard against censorship. While it is technically true that users can share content in a peer-to-peer fashion over the LBRY protocol, this is not always a stable or viable solution at scale given internet speeds and cost in some areas. At present, lbry.tv seems to be the only large scale app offering hosting on the LBRY network. In the event users wish to use the LBRY protocol but do not wish to use lbry.tv and are also unwilling or unable to host content themselves, are you aware of any other independent third-party instances of LBRY services that offer content hosting to the public?
In the event that I do not not hear back from you before the end of this week (Friday the 29th of May), I will be produce the video without any comment from LBRY. I hope I can hear back from you before then.
Thank you for your time,
Thank you for your thoughtful and thorough message. I would ask that if you choose to include portions of this response, you make the full response available to your audience as well (not necessarily in the video itself). We all know how the media can be :p
LBRY is making no accusation that Bitchute itself is intentionally antisemitic. We did not intend to harm Bitchute when we posted that message. We were responding to another user that had introduced Bitchute into the conversation. We do believe there is a contingent of virulently antisemitic posters on Bitchute (not “Israel is bad”, but “Jews aren’t people”). It is our company’s preference that those users stay on Bitchute rather than come to LBRY. But this is an expression of a preference, not a threat of action.
Any implication that Bitchute actively courts antisemitic content is a mistake and withdrawn. Whether it’s fair to say Bitchute benefits from antisemitism and whether this should be considered as tacitly endorsing it is, in my personal opinion, debatable. But we do not intend to discuss further publicly.
LBRY does not believe it or anyone is obligated to comment on anything. We also do not believe anyone is obligated to not comment on anything. Ultimately, we believe you should judge LBRY based on whether or not we actually interfere with legal content itself. We have always promised we will never do that, and have never given any indication to the contrary. In fact, I would argue that the company that says, “we dislike this content, but are hosting it anyway”, is more trustworthy than the company that claims to support free speech but is never challenged on something it disagrees with.
The LBRY desktop app does allow peer-to-peer access to everyone, even if in poor bandwidth areas it requires downloading. LBRY is better than Bitchute in openness and censorship in every way. We are continuing to work on the protocol day in and day out to make it better for everyone. Anyone who questions our commitment to that simply isn’t paying attention.