Factor.am’s YouTube page was blocked for about 24 hours, then restored. It was blocked on April 11, during the evening without any warning.
The website’s editor-in-chief Arevik Sahakyan says, that “numerous violations” were cited as a cause for disconnecting the YouTube Channel. The editor says that it is not now clear as to which violations they were being punished for.
“In order to restore the broadcast, we had to get into contact with international journalistic organizations, then it became possible to restore our activities on YouTube,” says Arevik Sahakyan.
In order to reestablish relations with YouTube, Factor.am was assisted by international journalistic organizations. Armenian human rights organizations have issued a special statement in order to help the news outlet, and noted that Factor.am’s unobstructed activity is crucial during the active political period of the Prime Minister’s election and the political campaigns which are taking place against said elections.
“These organizations had noted, that we provide impartial information, maintaining journalistic ethical norms,” said the editor.
Recently, as Arevik points out, they have covered the oppositional campaigns more than any other news outlet, and it’s surprising as to why their page was blocked hence during this period of time.
“Up till now, we have had correspondence with YouTube. We have received warning messages. For example, recently, when we were covering the 30th anniversary of the Karabakh Movement, we received a letter where YouTube warned us that the music used in the video violated copyright. We responded to the email, saying that we were working live at the site of a rally and they accepted our reasoning,” she explains.
Another Armenian news site, Armlur.am’s YouTube channel was blocked on April 11. The reason for being blocked had been the same as in the case of Factor.am.
The website’s editor-in-chief Taguhi Tovmasyan says that they have been deprived from their audience of 40 thousand followers for the third day already, but that they haven’t lost hope and are waiting for the results of their correspondence with YouTube.
“We have protect ourselves from technical and other issues. Aside from our main channel, we also have two pages, through which we are now sharing our content. We simply do not have the blocked page’s subscription number, and the archive of approximately 68 thousand videos,” notes the editor.
It is also incomprehensible for her that the YouTube page would be blocked during such a time when the opposition is holding protests in a country just before elections.
The founder of Caramel advertising agency, which is specialized in the internet platform, Arsen Sultanyan, says that there have been many cases when, without warning, a YouTube page has been blocked.
For example, recently, the social network has, without proper notice, blocked the account of a well known program. Even after a long correspondence, it was not possible to reactivate the page.
“The reasons can be very different, the most common being a copyright infringement. In such cases, they do not explain the situation using reasons, they simply send you the link to their general rules,” he said, adding that further emails may remain unanswered by the social network.
The problem, according to Sultanyan, is that our country is small. Google, which owns YouTube, does not have representation in Armenia, and there is no opportunity for direct dialogue.
“In the case of not being reactivated, the news agency can open a new account, using the same logo, and the same name. The only thing that changes in this case would be the YouTube address, the URL,” explains Sultanyan.
In such cases, the news agency suffers financial loss, losing its followers and their advertising opportunity. They are forced to resume their activities from a new page, and perhaps more carefully.