Barely Legally

Confessions of a Moot Court Bailiff

Solomon’s Algorithm

Google took a guy’s YouTube channel away from him. He’s still got all his videos and nearly a million subscribers, but the URL for his channel now points to a multinational cosmetics retailer. Why’s that?

Google said its algorithm decided which address Lush Cosmetics was given, based on data from YouTube, Google+, its search engine and other sources.

Lush cosmetics told the BBC it had not requested the change. Mr. Lush told the BBC: “I’ve been doing YouTube for a long time, but they’ve stripped this from me. I have that address on thousands of bracelets that I’ve sold, and it’s embedded in my videos. I can’t remake those now,” he said.

Google said Mr. Lush was a “valued creator” and that it had offered to pay for new marketing materials for his channel.

“Sorry, kid. We can’t do anything. It’s the algorithm we invented and developed. It’s not like we can just change it, or ignore it, or do anything but obey its ceaseless instructions.”

I’m not sure what’s more risible: Google’s dickery, or the implication that Google+ served as some sort of business intelligence metric.