Bad PR, The Internet, and Censorship – Just Take It

Well, it looks like there is case of a large organization trying to cover up some bad press. Featured on slashdot: “YouTube Yanks Free Tibet Video After IOC (International Olympic Committee”:

The International Olympic Committee filed a copyright infringement claim yesterday against YouTube for hosting video of a Free Tibet protest at the Chinese Consulate in Manhattan Thursday night. The video depicts demonstrators conducting a candlelight vigil and projecting a protest video onto the consulate building; the projection features recent footage of Tibetan monks being arrested and riffs on the Olympic logo of the five interlocking rings, turning them into handcuffs. YouTube dutifully yanked the video, but it can still be seen on Vimeo. (Be advised; there is some brief footage of bloody, injured monks

What should companies do when they are getting bad PR on the internet? Especially something that is as high profile as the Olympics, I honestly think it is just best to take the bad PR and move forward. Here is our scenario:

People are protesting the issue between China and Tibet. I don’t know a whole lot about it as I should (put it on my list of things to read up about). The Olympics are being hosted in China. This is a perfect place and time for people who are protesting the China-Tibet issue to get some attention. I mean the whole world is watching. So the pro-tibet people make a video and post it on the net. They include some images of the Olympic rings. I watched the video, and I walked away thinking it was 95% about China’s actions. I really didn’t think about it being anti-olympics.

So what happens? The IOC gets worried people might think people the Olympics are evil or something. I’m pretty sure some people think the IOC is evil, but this video wouldn’t make one person think that who didn’t already. But the IOC panic and have YouTube remove the video due to “copyright” issues. All of a sudden the IOC changes their stance and enter into “censorship.” It doesn’t matter what is legal or not, people all of a sudden think the IOC agrees with China. Is it true? That doesn’t matter. Its PR.

Then you have something that wouldn’t have happened 10 years ago. The news story goes viral. It starts to be featured all over the internet, and soon more people will see it under a worse context than had the video not been removed. Ten times more people could see. hundreds, maybe even thousands will see it now. All for what? Copyright issues.

The bottom-line is this: trying to coverup bad PR can blow up in your face in an instant. Especially when it is so controversial. You have names like YouTube, Olympics, and China, of course it can get a lot of coverage.

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