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White House Ditches YouTube 204

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the but-i-thought-google-bought-and-paid-for-the-US-already dept.
An anonymous reader writes to tell us that in an apparent response to privacy complaints, the White House has quietly moved off of YouTube as a method for serving the President's weekly video address. Choosing instead to use a Flash-based solution and Akamai's content delivery network, this comes just days after YouTube began to roll out their own new policies regarding privacy of visitors.
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White House Ditches YouTube

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  • Wise choice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Monday March 02, 2009 @06:37PM (#27045517)

    Wise choice.

    I never understood why they would choose YouTube over other Internet "channels". It is not exactly a "neutral choice".

    If the president would like to speak to the American people, why not choose something not affiliated with any company.

    But, as a non-American, what do I know.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SatanicPuppy (611928) *

      This is a response to a legitimate privacy concern.

      Saying, "The government should be forced to re-invent the wheel instead of using a popular free service" is silly. YouTube is perfectly acceptable in most respects.

      If they had stayed with YouTube, despite privacy concerns, that would have been bad. But there is nothing wrong with starting out using a popular free site.

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        1. It is a youtube link. Who doesn't go to youtube?
        2. Turn on reject cookies.
          I mean really just how big of a problem is this?

        • by Macrat (638047) on Monday March 02, 2009 @07:24PM (#27046017)

          1. It is a youtube link. Who doesn't go to youtube?

          I guess you've never been to xHamster.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vux984 (928602)

        Saying, "The government should be forced to re-invent the wheel

        They dont have to re-invent the wheel. They merely have to buy a copy of the wheel.

        instead of using a popular free service" is silly. YouTube is perfectly acceptable in most respects.

        Youtube isn't "free" in any sense except that the video watchers don't have to pay money directly to google.

        The government should be providing access to its video content for "free" in a much broader sense. We are paying for through our taxes after all. We shouldn'

        • >>>We shouldn't be subject to corporate sponsorship, corporate data-mining/tracking etc.

          Yes because the corporations have the power to suck money from our wallets, throw us into jail if we smoke a certain plant, or send us off to foreign countries to die a horrible mutilation.

          Oh wait. They don't. I hate corporations as much as the next guy, but to fear corporations is silly. Their ads are very easily ignored, and their products too. I've watched Obama on youtube, and it was no big deal. I don

          • Re:Wise choice (Score:4, Insightful)

            by vux984 (928602) on Monday March 02, 2009 @07:31PM (#27046083)

            Oh wait. They don't. I hate corporations as much as the next guy, but to fear corporations is silly. Their ads are very easily ignored, and their products too. I've watched Obama on youtube, and it was no big deal. I don't have to hide in fear.

            Strawman argument. This has nothing to do with fear.

            Its the principle of the thing. As a free society we should have the right and ability to directly access our government records from our government, without being subject to interference or terms of any sort whatsoever by 3rd party companies, no matter how benign the terms or how popular their website is.

            If the government wants to outsource hosting to another company that's fine, but then its still on our terms of service. To submit to -their- terms is absurd. Eventually that will bite you in the ass.

            Whether its because google becomes capital-E evil, or it simply goes bankrupt, the government shouldn't rely on a 'free service' for the retention and public distribution of its records.

            As I said, I have no problem with the video being available on google, but if I don't want to patronize youtube to view my governments records/correspondance/etc I shouldn't have to.

            Its essentially the same argument for why governments should use open formats for documents.

            • >>>Its the principle of the thing. As a free society we should have the right and ability to directly access our government records from our government, without being subject to interference or terms of any sort whatsoever by 3rd party companies, no matter how benign the terms or how popular their website is.
              >>>

              Boy you're misinformed. There are LOTS of third-party agencies standing between you and your government:

              - The people who build the roads are third parties.
              - The people who design t

        • The government should be providing access to its video content for "free" in a much broader sense. We are paying for through our taxes after all. We shouldn't be subject to corporate sponsorship, corporate data-mining/tracking etc.

          Well, the thing is we are not paying for it with anything, that's why it was hosted on a free service. We did pay for the content to be created, and we can pay more so they can host it somewhere, but that's not the case right now. Your phrasing makes it sound like there is a distribution setup in place and ready to use at no additional cost, and I'm pretty sure that's not true. I have never heard anything about the office of the President of the United States had a high bandwidth, high availability video on

      • by rmerry72 (934528)

        Saying, "The government should be forced to re-invent the wheel instead of using a popular free service" is silly. YouTube is perfectly acceptable in most respects.

        This is simply about offering Flash videos on the governments website and not YouTube. How is having links to Flash videos off your own web site "reinventing the wheel" exactly? How is YouTube or Akami or anything else a better "distribution channel" than downloading directly from the source?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chabo (880571)

      Call me cynical, but Obama chose YouTube because it's "what young people use". That was his campaign's primary target demographic, so it's what he used. I doubt it had anything to do directly with Google's ownership of the site, but who knows.

      • You're cynical. Is there a different popular video hosting site that old people use? Seems to me YouTube isn't what young people use, it's what everyone uses.

        • by Chabo (880571)

          Is there a different popular video hosting site that old people use?

          I bet if there was, he would've concentrated on YouTube more than that.

          I'm in Obama's target demographic, and he was marketing towards my peers and me. When it came to older people, Obama was like "Oh yeah, sure, they can vote for me too." He really wanted the votes of young people.

        • by rmerry72 (934528)

          Seems to me YouTube isn't what young people use, it's what everyone uses.

          Rubbish. Some people use YouTube. Some use Facebook, some use MySpace (still), some use torrents, some simply email. Oh, you and yours use YouTube. Well I guess that's everybody who is important then.

          • Ill see your rubbish and raise you "your a idiot." Facebook HAS no video player, it uses video linked from other sites like..... YOUTUBE. And while your right MySpace has video, Youtube basically owns the market for use uploaded video.
        • by Chyeld (713439)

          In Korea, only old people use YouTube.

    • Re:Wise choice (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PetriBORG (518266) on Monday March 02, 2009 @06:42PM (#27045587) Homepage

      Maybe so, but do if you are hoping to get young people - people who wouldn't otherwise notice you - to notice you, then maybe you would post it to some place they go right? I'm wondering why they can't just post them to multiple places - now that seems a more reasonable question to me.

      • "I'm wondering why they can't just post them to multiple places - now that seems a more reasonable question to me."

        I would rather they simply make the videos available on their own servers for anyone who is interested in watching and distributing them. Rather than spend tax payer money on a team who will distribute them to various free sites.

        Free sites are free in terms of bandwidth, but the companies have their own business interests in mind. Only a contract with the government would force the company to k

      • by kestasjk (933987) *
        Someone rip the vids, make a new presidential channel, boom
    • Re:Wise choice (Score:4, Insightful)

      by White Flame (1074973) on Monday March 02, 2009 @06:47PM (#27045627)

      Not affiliated with any company? Your only choices are pay to self-host (and that means affiliating with a hosting provider), or go P2P.

      Remember, Akamai is a company, too.

      • Re:Wise choice (Score:4, Insightful)

        by techno-vampire (666512) on Monday March 02, 2009 @06:53PM (#27045693) Homepage
        Your only choices are pay to self-host (and that means affiliating with a hosting provider)

        In case you forgot, this is the US Federal Government we're talking about here. It has ample bandwidth and as much access to the Internet Backbone as it needs. All they need to do is dedicate some servers in some government datacenter to this and Bjorn Stronginthearm's your uncle!

        • by Dunbal (464142)

          and Bjorn Stronginthearm's your uncle!

                I'm a troll you insensitive clod!

                Uh... wait.. /Pratchett

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Wise choice.

      I never understood why they would choose YouTube over other Internet "channels". It is not exactly a "neutral choice".

      If the president would like to speak to the American people, why not choose something not affiliated with any company.

      But, as a non-American, what do I know.

      Because youtube's a trendy, high-traffic site with a lot of hip factor and buzz?

    • Re:Wise choice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fm6 (162816) on Monday March 02, 2009 @07:07PM (#27045843) Homepage Journal

      I never understood why they would choose YouTube over other Internet "channels". It is not exactly a "neutral choice".

      Because the White House (from Mr. I-Want-My-Blackberry on down) is now staffed by your basic Web 2.0 geeks who are used to doing everything with certain widely used platforms: YouTube, FaceBook, Blackberry, etc. They're having a hard time adapting to life in a big organization with an established federal IT infrastructure that doesn't know how to support their Macs, is suspicious of any application that hasn't been vetted by their bureaucracy, and is more about security than about communication. It's why whitehouse.gov is still such a mess: the people who are running it are just now learning that there's more to creating a government web site than opening a Blogster account.

      I think this Clash of Civilizations, snafus and all, is actually a healthy thing. It will force Obama's tech geeks to think things through and understand the real-world perils of the technology they love so much. And it will force the IT people to adapt the federal infrastructure to a world where online communication has become a central way of getting things done.

    • by recharged95 (782975) on Monday March 02, 2009 @07:39PM (#27046175) Journal
      Think outside the box,

      Gov't is good at exploitation:

      .

      1. Use youtube to aggregate and host videos initially. Exploit Youtube's excellent distribution model for short term content.

      2. After a month, back them up on your own storage server (i.e. US library of Congress). Exploit your excellent archival infrastructure. Convert from flash to something like Mpeg-4 too. That will built up the LoC's site and pump more cash/need/better use cases into it.

      3. profit! well maybe not as gov't is not suppose to profit remember!

      .

      .

      . Done and thank you too.

    • Perhaps it's because the Supreme Court is starting to use the service [nytimes.com]...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by plnix0 (807376)

      If the president would like to speak to the American people, why not choose something not affiliated with any company.

      You mean... like Akamai?

      • by smoker2 (750216)
        Dickhead.

        Does Akamai say "we own your content" ?
        You may as well say the president's affiliated with Ford or GM or whoever, just because he might use their products. Google on the other hand do claim to have complete control over any content you provide them with.
    • Since the address is an official communication, why can't it be hosted on "whitehouse.gov"?

      The President can't get enough bandwidth for it? The FedGov has bandwidth out, as Zappa would say, "the provervial wazoo"!

      Jeez, this is actually pretty easy to fix. Just ask the tier-1 providers to provide no-cost peering to the whitehouse.gov site.

      (Unless, of course, they want to face:

      while (investigation.practices) == false {
      if ((cash_in > 1000000000) || (good_press > $0x1000000)) && (

    • Wise choice.

      I never understood why they would choose YouTube over other Internet "channels".

      According to Alexa, youTube is the third most popular website in the whole wide world.

      Not the third viedo content delivery website. The third most visited site overall.

      Reach is what they were after.

  • by Samschnooks (1415697) on Monday March 02, 2009 @06:43PM (#27045591)

    That is, the site would be free to keep logs on the videos viewed by visitors to its own site as well as those embedded on blogs, but it would opt to immediately forget all identifying information associated with requests from government sites.

    First I watched some hairy milf porn, then some stuff on how ot win on "Call of Duty", then I watched some heavy metal and cop killing rap music videos, a Joel Osteen sermon, then I watched this guy with an Uzi with a silencer knock off a bunch of targets (way cool!), and then I watched Obama's weekly address.

    A few hours later, this black helicopter lands in my front yard and a bunch of guys kick my door down! I mean, WTF!?!

    • The ones circling may house are in whisper mode and cloaked, but I know they're still up there!

      Watching...waiting..

  • <video> (Score:3, Funny)

    by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Monday March 02, 2009 @06:45PM (#27045609) Journal
    Flash? When HTML 5 is done they can use the <video> tag.
    • Re: (Score:5, Funny)

      by Captain Spam (66120) on Monday March 02, 2009 @06:56PM (#27045745) Homepage

      Yes, but they want something they can use for THIS presidential term.

      Thank you! Thank you! I'm here all week! Try the veal!

      • When HTML 5 is done they can use the <video> tag.

        Yes, but they want something they can use for THIS presidential term.

        It works in my browser. Maybe the government should promote standards by using the new technology and directing users to a browser that is innovative and current and supports the standard.

        • by Dhalka226 (559740)

          As soon as it's a standard perhaps that would be a valid criticism. That's not the case right now. According to the document itself, it's not even in the candidate stage.

    • by rmerry72 (934528)

      Flash? When HTML 5 is done they can use the tag.

      How is a tag any better than the tag used now? The browser will still load Flash, because it will be a Flash file that is offered. It will be Flash file because everybody - and on Slashdot everybody means "at least 0.1% of the population" - and I mean everybody (ie, maybe 0.2% of people) uses Flash and only Flash.

      The tag will just tell the browser to load a Video. It won't - and can't - mandate which client to use.

      • The <video> tag doesn't work like that. You reference a video file directly, such as: <video src="http://videos.example.com/the_video.ogg"></video>

        Your browser displays the UI for the video -- Flash isn't involved at all. (Unless Adobe made Flash interpret the <video> tag while running in IE, which would be cool, but at the same time contradictory to their lock-in philosophy.)

        Grab a copy of the latest Firefox 3.1 beta and start playing with it. Without Flash installed.

        • by rmerry72 (934528)

          The tag doesn't work like that. ... Your browser displays the UI for the video -- Flash isn't involved at all.

          Yes, I understand the video tag downloads the video just as it does for images. But then it will hand off to a video player to play. By default (and most users use defaults) Flash videos (mime type "video/shockwave-flash" I think) will play in Flash.

          The OGG file you referenced will be played in your OGG compatible video player, which could be just about anything if you have the OGG codecs install

          • No, it won't. You're getting confused with the <object> tag.

            By default (and most users use defaults) Flash videos (mime type "video/shockwave-flash" I think) will play in Flash.

            Okay, I haven't tested this to back up my statement, so I am as bad as you, but AFAIK Flash won't play FLV videos directly. If it did, then nobody would be making all these .swf applets to do the job, such as the JW FLV Player.

            To play a Flash video in Flash, you must have a .swf, and either hardcode the .flv URL in the .swf,

            • by rmerry72 (934528)

              That is what the G.G.P. was getting at. With the tag, you can upload a video to your web server, reference it in the HTML, and be done with it. Flash simply doesn't offer that.

              Good point. I yield as you are absolutely right. Thanks for enlightening me.

  • Odd... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "Choosing instead to use a Flash-based solution"

    Last time I checked, YouTube uses flash as well.

  • What exactly are the privacy concerns that are valid at YouTube.com that aren't are *.gov?

  • Privacy? on the Internet? Time to wakeup and smell the coffee. If an Intelligence,(ignore the oxymoron), Agency wants to learn about you, they will; that's their job. I can think of some good reasons to put the presidents messages on youTube. Cost, zip. And if the president starts getting some hits on his submittals, then possibly he can have youTube add some advertising on the bottom of the video clip; and generate some money to ease the burden of us tax paying types. It helps get money flowing again,

  • by OldakQuill (1045966) on Monday March 02, 2009 @08:29PM (#27046633)

    Akamai is an odd choice of platform if The White House is concerned about privacy. Akamai serve about 20% of the world's Internet traffic and function as a "content delivery platform" for many big-name websites. Most of the work they do is in caching images and interactive media, as well as serving ads for many websites to improve loading speed. They are like Google in many ways, in that they have a massively distributed server network that spans 70 countries and are ingrained in many peoples' browsing experience.

    One of the things they are best known for is Internet usage statistics. They provide good indicators of general Internet use and use of specific services.

    Also like Google, they track users using various means, and use the details to profit. Most importantly, they use this information for advert targeting.

    There are two dissimilarities between Google and Akamai (ignoring the obvious dissimilarity of the two companies' models): Akamai have spent most of their life trying to find ways to make a profit and Akamai receive a lot less public scrutiny because their services are transparent to the end-user.

    If YouTube was abandoned due to Google's privacy practices, privacy advocates should be as concerned about the privacy practices of Akamai. Indeed, the extent to which Akamai tracks users needs to be investigated and exposed for the sake of public scrutiny.

  • Great news, from what I hear under previous agreements, YouTube would have owned the rights to the bailouts, Citibank, holdovers from the Bush administration, the credit crisis, tainted peanut butter and America. I don't think my Google stock could have handled that.

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