Even as television news anchors explained why they would no longer show the videos made by suspected Virginia Tech killer Seung Hui Cho, his diatribe was rapidly being uploaded to YouTube.com.
There hundreds of versions of Cho's video and news coverage of it can be
found. On Friday, the three most watched YouTube videos featured Cho.
But they have been granted new life on the Internet, where younger viewers
have flocked in recent years to catch home-made videos and other clips. Now
they can see into the eyes of a young man many have called a monster.
"Those seeking the video online must know in their own heart why they need
to watch it again," said Andrew Finlayson, news director for Chicago's Fox 32,
which stopped airing the video on Thursday. "I personally hope it is not for
amusement but instead to reflect on how we can prevent this from happening
700,000 hits for video
One video posted Thursday on YouTube has been viewed more than 700,000
times. Furthermore, that video and the hundreds like it are being linked to
blogs, MySpace profile pages and e-mailed across the Web. Hence, millions of
people could still be watching Cho's disturbing actions even as mainstream
media have stopped showing them.
Many of those viewers would likely be college-age, since in the four-week
period ending April 14, 29.7 percent of YouTube's viewers were ages 18 to 24,
according to Internet tracking firm Hitwise.
By contrast, last year, the median age of the viewers for the nightly news
broadcasts of the three major networks was about 60, according to Nielsen
YouTube is not a media outlet but it does have a responsibility, said Bob
Steele, the values scholar for the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank
in St. Petersburg, Fla.
"I'm not suggesting they should not allow the video [on YouTube], but they
should consider the ramifications of the video being on there," he said.
"Letting the chips fall where they may is not the answer. They should have
YouTube states policy
In a statement Friday, YouTube said there has "been an outpouring of
emotional support by the YouTube community" in the wake of the killings. "We
recognize that some individuals may use this same platform for messages and
videos that are both insensitive and poor in taste. Any video that violates
YouTube viewers must flag a video as inappropriate before site operators
take action. YouTube's community guidelines also say videos depicting graphic
or gratuitous violence are not allowed. "YouTube is not a shock site,"
according to the guidelines.
YouTube, owned by Google Inc., did not make an executive available for
Media giant Viacom Inc. sued Google for $1 billion in March for copyright
violations. Part of Viacom's frustration, cited in the federal lawsuit, is
that YouTube must be asked to remove content from its site.
Videos of Cho are also available on other sites. Revver.com said none are
posted on its site. Before videos go up on Revver, they are reviewed for
copyright violations, a spokeswoman said Friday. If the poster owns the
copyright, they could go up as long as the site's reviewers deemed them
"If it's not their content, we won't post it," she said.
The top YouTube video on Friday was a copy of a report that first aired on
Yet many of the Cho videos are what's called "mash-ups," in which the
person adds music or other tricks.
One widely watched YouTube video, made by a director named Deadasoren,
features a still picture of Cho holding two guns toward the camera. Scrolling
across the screen are words Cho spoke in one video and playing in the
background is a song titled "Spider's Web" by singer Katie Melua.
Deadasoren writes that his video "was meant to show what Cho was thinking
at the time of the massacre. It doesn't represent my own (deadasoren) personal
He could not be reached for comment.
Former newspaper journalist Dan Gillmor, the director of the Center for
Citizen Media, doesn't think YouTube has an obligation to take down the Cho
videos. But he thinks those who post to YouTube and other sites should be
Steele said there was a "journalistic purpose" to show the Cho videos late
Wednesday and into Thursday, even though there was concern cited "about the
possibility of copycats." "But those same elements do not exist on Friday."
THE VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTINGS
Versions of Cho video proliferate online
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