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YouTube's Impact

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YouTube's Impact

How YouTube Has Affected the United States

YouTube has given people the opportunity to upload their videos and share them with the world. Whether they are comedic videos, political videos, or just random clips from their favorite TV shows, YouTube has given the user full power. YouTube has made a huge impact on a variety of different aspects ranging from the presidential election, politics, promotion of talents, commercials, and has also spurred several lawsuits.

The 2008 Presidential Election has been utilizing YouTube as a medium to promote, support, and publicize the presidential candidates. Users can upload video clips so that other viewers can search and watch promotions, commercials, and debates that they may have missed on television. For the first time in political history, Republican and Democratic presidential candidates took part in a presidential debate through CNN and YouTube, in which viewers could submit their questions to YouTube within a certain time period, which were then submitted to the candidates. This is a huge step for presidential candidates as they can interact with the public via the Internet. “YouTube enables voters and candidates to communicate in a way that simply was not possible during the last election,” said Chad Hurley, CEO and co-founder of YouTube. “For the first time in the history of presidential debates, voters from around the country will be able to ask the future president of the United States a question in video form and hear the answer.” Furthermore, Jim Walton, CNN Worldwide president said, “These debates take the bold step of embracing the ever-increasing role of the Internet in politics. The inclusion of the massive online community enables these debates to engage more viewers – and potential voters – than ever before.” The young American generations, many of which feel that they have no say in the presidential election, now have the opportunity to voice their opinions, concerns, and questions.

YouTube’s first major run-in and pressure on politics occurred in 2006 when George Allen, Republican candidate from Georgia used racial slurs against a woman of Asian-American decent who was filming him. He did apologize later on, but because the video clip was posted on YouTube, he lost by several thousand votes even though he was the front-runner prior to the posting. YouTube spawned his downfall after thousands of voters viewed the clip. Other videos that make their way to YouTube show Vice President John McCain dozing off during President Bush’s speech (although he was really just looking down), and other embarrassing clips of major political figures. Although many of these clips depict false moments and viewpoints, they still make a significant difference in the way the public views these political figures.

YouTube is a site in which anyone can post a video; these videos make their way into the public media and sometimes find their way onto the news, entertainment shows, and commercials. Clip, “Dancing Baby”, spread amongst people on the Internet in 1996 and is one of the first videos known as “viral videos”. Thousands of these types of videos are viewed on YouTube and spread like a wildfire, or virus. Most of these viral videos are spawned from amateurs, who become famous from them within a matter of minutes after uploading them. However, sharing these viral videos also may have a negative side- once they are spread there is no going back, and many people and organizations experience the lows of millions of people witnessing their acts on YouTube. For example, in March 2006, Chevrolet launched an online create-your-own-commercial campaign for its Tahoe SUV. Green-minded humorists seized the campaign by designing widely circulated Tahoe ads with slogans like, "Nature? It'll grow back. Drive a car that costs the earth."

YouTube’s Worldwide Impact

YouTube is not only popular in the United States, but in many other cultures throughout the world as well. Although some countries in the world prohibit the use and viewing of YouTube videos, the majority do not. Harry McCracken, a typical tourist visiting London, shot an amateur video of people shooting the new movie at the time, “Superman Returns”; he states that by the time he got around to posting his video clip on YouTube, there were already two other videos of the same nature! The site streams 100 million videos a day, and has about 72 million unique visitors to date. "YouTube has allowed itself to flow into the center of culture, by becoming of the culture," says Marian Salzman, author of several books on trends and executive vice president at ad agency JWT Worldwide. "It feels like it started as a buzz wave, but today it's a ... pillar post in the world of user-generated content."

People can connect through YouTube by sharing video clips of personal important nature; one such clip I viewed titled, “Worldwide Peace Vigil, Light a Candle”, attempts to bring the world together to light a candle in peaceful protest of the war and to remember all of those who have died in the many wars of the past as well as current.

Our visual aid shows how some countries react to YouTube's impact.