With over 2 billion active users per month, YouTube is the world’s largest video hosting platform, the second most popular social media platform, and the second largest search engine. It dwarfs its closest video streaming competitors by a long stretch, and is quite literally second to none. It shouldn’t surprise you, then, that as a Google subsidiary, there have been several controversies surrounding how YouTube has handled user data in the past.
In September 2019, Google was fined 170 million USD and required to implement privacy changes in direct response to claims that YouTube had illegally gathered and used children’s personal information and profited by showing them targeted ads. This resulted in a change on children’s YouTube videos, specifically around how user data is collected. Further, ads are no longer allowed on children’s videos and content creators must now indicate whether a new upload is made for children or not made for children.
In May 2020, YouTube was accused of censorship when comments critical of the Chinese Communist Party were automatically deleted. YouTube later advised that this was “an error in our enforcement systems.” Stranger yet, YouTube has been banned in China for years.
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In December 2020, YouTube announced it was adding a new feature to the platform aimed at deterring hateful comments by users. The feature toggles a pop-up that warns users to “keep comments respectful.” It’s important to note that this feature doesn’t actually stop a user from commenting, but rather just provides an extra chance to reconsider.
Regardless of how you may feel about YouTube, it is a private company that can moderate its content to fit within its guidelines. With issues of freedom of speech and censorship currently dominating world headlines, we take a look at several alternative video sharing platforms and what they have to offer.
Top 6 alternatives to YouTube
BitChute was launched in early 2017 and established in response to the perceived increase in censorship seen on mainstream video sharing platforms. It has been described as a no-holds-barred alternative to YouTube (for better or for worse); a majority of BitChute’s content creators are individuals who have been barred or ousted from platforms like YouTube. Unlike YouTube, BitChute is ad-free and monetization options for content creators are far more flexible.
BitChute is considered to be part of a group of platforms and providers known as “alt-tech,” which are geared towards offering alternatives to mainstream voices. Be warned, with a specific focus on conservative political and fringe content, BitChute videos may be a bit extreme for some.
What data does BitChute collect?
BitChute collects personal identification information which may include your name, age, residential address, phone number, and/or payment card details. This information will only be collected from registered users who have provided consent to do so. Non-personal information that may be collected includes your device type, operating system, and browser type.
How does BitChute fare on privacy?
Not bad. Content on BitChute can be viewed anonymously. Account registration is only required if you want to upload videos, post comments, subscribe to channels, or vote on content. Any user information gathered by Bit Chute Limited is encrypted and protected with digital signatures. No information is sold or traded.
Launched in 2013, Rumble is a Canadian video platform that originally focused on videos of users’ friends, family, and pets. In late 2020, the Republican California Congressman Devin Nunes drew attention to the platform when he and other conservative content creators migrated to Rumble following YouTube’s increased censorship of conservative subject matter.
Like BitChute, Rumble seems to be taking a more hands-off approach to moderating content on its platform.
What data does Rumble collect?
Depending on the type of account you register, Rumble may collect personal information that includes your name, gender, profile photo, location, website, and email address. Along with this, Rumble may collect “non-identifying” user information that can include device and browser type.
How does Rumble fare on privacy?
Not bad. Content on Rumble can be viewed anonymously. Data logs can be collected and kept regarding device and browser type, in relation to the service’s operation. Rumble does, however, allow for users to register to its service through third party sign-on options (Facebook, Google, etc.), which isn’t always a great idea.
Dailymotion trails YouTube as the world’s second largest video sharing platform. Founded around the same time as YouTube, Dailymotion has carved out a comfortable space among competitors with around 200 million users per month (as of early 2021). Of all the entries on this list, Dailymotion is the most similar to YouTube in its content, but its moderation is more relaxed.
What data does Dailymotion collect?
Depending on the type of account you register, Dailymotion may collect user information that includes your name, email address, billing details, IP address, device type, and browsing history.
How does Dailymotion fare on privacy?
Founded by filmmakers, for filmmakers, Vimeo can is considered to be a curated and prestigious version of YouTube. Initially founded as a side project to CollegeHumor in 2004, Vimeo has grown to be a notable outlet for up-and-coming filmmakers and ad directors. Unlike YouTube, Vimeo is ad-free.
In 2019, Vimeo was hit with a lawsuit for allegedly collecting and storing biometric data from users’ videos and photos without their permission or knowledge. In 2020, it lost an appeal to have the case moved to arbitration.
What data does Vimeo collect?
Depending on the type of account you choose to create, Vimeo may collect your email address, payment and billing information, or authentication information from third-party platforms including Google and Facebook.
How does Vimeo fare on privacy?
Not bad. Vimeo doesn’t sell user data and encrypts all user account data. Vimeo content can be viewed anonymously.
Founded in 2018 by Framasoft, a French non-profit, PeerTube is an open-source, ad-free, and decentralized video sharing platform. Being decentralized means users and creators can create their own platform (or “instance”). In other words, you can create your very own YouTube alternative! Instances can vary across subject matter and community rules.
What data does PeerTube collect?
This can vary as registration or sign-up options come down to the discretion of an instance’s creator.
How does PeerTube fare on privacy?
Great! As an open-source and free software, PeerTube’s source code is readily available for anybody to scrutinize—and therefore quite transparent.
Read the FramaSoft’s legal notices here.
LBRY is a protocol that provides creators with a platform to publish video content without censorship, risk of demonetization, barriers to entry, or meddling. LBRY is open-source, free, and aims to do for publishing what “Bitcoin did to money.” In fact, the same blockchain technology developed by Bitcoin’s creator also powers LBRY.
A fun feature that LBRY has implemented is syncing your YouTube channel to the LBRY network. This means that any time you upload new content to YouTube, it will also be automatically uploaded to your LBRY channel. The caveat is that you must have over 300 YouTube subscribers and be consistent with your uploads.
In addition to video content, LBRY also allows for the sharing of music and documents.
What data does LBRY collect?
LBRY collects user data that may include your email address, user preferences, system information, identity verification, analytics, and IP address. Some of this information is largely dependent on if you decide to register and provide an email address. LBRY also provides the option of viewing content anonymously.
How does LBRY fare on privacy?
Great! Identifiable user data is neither sold nor transferred to any external party. Content on LBRY can be viewed anonymously. No tracking is implemented across the service, nor is third-party behavioural tracking, and there are multiple options to change any instance of your personal information used on the site.