Gavin McInnes, the onetime Vice Media bigwig and more recently the creator of the violent, far-right “Western chauvinist” Proud Boys organisation, isn’t having such a great holiday season.
In late November, he frantically (and disingenuously) renounced any leadership position in the group amid a wave of arrests of Proud Boys accused of beating protesters in New York and reports the FBI considers it an “extremist group with ties to white nationalism.” The FBI later walked back that description, but in the meantime he’s been denied entry to Australia and had a partnership with conservative outfit Blaze Media terminated. The Proud Boys themselves accidentally failed to redact personal information on their “Elders” in new bylaws uploaded to their website, and other members have begun to bail as well. On Monday, McInnes advanced one step closer to total ruin by earning himself a YouTube ban.
According to CNET, McInnes lost his account and its over 220,000 subscribers not due to his overtly hateful conduct—which has run the gamut from using all manner of bigoted slurs to espousing an ideology that sounds an awful lot like white supremacy—but for copyright violations:
“This account has been terminated because we received multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement regarding material the user posted,” the message read.
A YouTube representative said in a statement that when a copyright holder notifies YouTube about infringement, the company acts quickly to remove infringing content as required by law. “We terminate the accounts of repeat offenders,” the rep said.
A message sent to Proud Boys USA on Gab seeking comment on McInnes’s behalf wasn’t immediately returned.
In other words, YouTube’s official explanation is that it takes copyright complaints more seriously than all the other horrible stuff McInnes has done (and on the record). This is indeed somewhat disturbing—vague, arbitrarily enforced moderation policies are the de facto practice at most major platforms, which goes a long way towards explaining how McInnes was able to capitalise on them in the first place. Yet it is not disturbing for the conspiratorial reasons McInnes gave the Huffington Post, in which he claimed he had really been targeted by some shadow cabal:
Asked for comment Monday about his firing, McInnes told HuffPost he believed “there has been a concerted effort to de-platform me” and claimed he was the victim of “lies and propaganda.”
“Someone very powerful decided long ago that I shouldn’t have a voice,” he wrote in an email. “I’m finally out of platforms and unable to defend myself. ... We are no longer living in a free country.”
He also told the Post that he plans to file counternotifications for the copyright complaints, though the Verge noted that it appears McInnes failed to resolve them in time to prevent the ban in the first place.
McInnes has previously received bans on PayPal, Twitter, and Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram, and per Right Wing Watch’s Jared Holt, payment processor Stripe and merchandising platform Shopify have also stopped doing business with the Proud Boys. According to New York Magazine, at some point he picked up an Amazon ban as well. At this point, it must be getting pretty hard for him to find any nickels to rub together.
In yet another instance of a prominent YouTuber being terrible, streamer and perennial edgelord Felix Kjellberg (best known as PewDiePie) reportedly posted a video on Sunday in which he directed his subscribers to sign up for an anti-Semitic channel.