Schoolyard fight on YouTube leads to arrest

January 18, 2007

News:  Three high school girls beat up a 13 year old girl outside of a school.  The bullies pulled the girl’s hair, while she lay prone on the ground, and they punched her repeatedly.  Of course, the bullies videotaped themselves and stuck it on YouTube and MySpace.  After the video received a lot of publicity, school officials found out and notified Suffolk County police, who just arrested the three girls who beat up the other girl.  (More here)

Analysis:   I’m glad the girls got caught.  But I have mixed feelings about YouTube’s role in all this.  On the one hand, it’s definitely good that the police could use the YouTube video to identify the perpetrators of the beating.  On the other hand, I wonder whether YouTube should evaluate its own policies in allowing so many beating and fight videos up freely on its site.  I worry that teenagers and others might now be enjoying more getting into fights, so they can videotape their exploits and put them up on the web.  If you type in “girl beating girl” on YouTube, you get some 2,347 videos.   (You’d probably find some other fight videos if you type in some other search terms.) Some of these videos may not be actual fights, but I’m pretty sure that many are.

I’m not sure what the best policy for YouTube would be, but I think YouTube needs to study the issue at the very least.  In the end, maybe they need to ban all such fight videos from its site — after all, the postings on YouTube might be unintentionally promoting criminal acts.  The downside of such a ban would be that without the videos, it’s unlikely the police would ever investigate the fights.  I wonder, though, whether that’s likely to happen anyway, the Suffolk County case notwithstanding.