YOUTUBE has been accused of censorship after introducing a controversial new policy designed to reduce the audience for videos deemed to be "inappropriate or offensive to some audiences".
The Google-owned video site is now putting videos into a "limited state" if they are deemed controversial enough to be considered objectionable, but not hateful, pornographic or violent enough to be banned altogether.
YouTube is by far the world's largest video publishing platform and streams one billion hours of footage every day
This policy was announced several months ago but has come into force in the past week, prompting anger among members of the YouTube community.
The Sun Online understands Google and YouTube staff refer to the tactic as "tougher treatment."
One prominent video-maker slammed the new scheme whilst WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange described the measures as "economic censorship".
However, YouTube sees it as a way of maintaining freedom of speech and allowing discussion of controversial issues without resorting to the wholesale banning of videos.
Videos which are put into a limited state cannot be embedded on other websites.
They also cannot be easily published on social media using the usual share buttons and other users cannot comment on them.
This is the screen users are shown when they click on a video that has been 'limited'
Crucially, the person who made the video will no longer receive any payment.
Earlier this week, Julian Assange wrote: "'Controversial' but contract-legal videos [which break YouTube's terms and conditions] cannot be liked, embedded or earn [money from advertising revenue].
"What's interesting about the new method deployed is that it is a clear attempt at social engineering. It isn't just turning off the ads.
"It's turning off the comments, embeds, etc too.
"Everything possible to strangle the reach without deleting it
Criticism of YouTube's policies is most acute among people on the right of the political spectrum, who fear that Silicon Valley is dominated by the left and determined to silence opposing voices - a claim denied by tech giants like Facebook and Google.
The new YouTube rules were highlighted this week by Paul Joseph Watson, a globally famous British right wing YouTuber and editor-at-large of Infowars, who spoke out after saying a guest on his online show had one of her videos removed after the appearance.
The black female YouTuber, who uses the name RedPillBlack, made a video entitled "WTF? Black Lives Matter Has A List of Demands for White People!" in response to a member of the activist's group calls for white people to "give up the home you own to a black or brown family".
The video was part of a series which features an offensive racial term in its name, which we have decided not to publish, and criticises the BLM member's statement point by point.
We watched her video and whilst it's clear that many people might disagree with the political point she is making, the actual video did not appear to be offensive or gratuitous.
"Some people might watch the video and think I'm speaking out against black people," she said in the video.
"But what I'm doing here is speaking up for black people."
The video was allegedly banned but later reinstated following a series of tweets from Watson, which you can see below.
On Twitter, the vlogger RedPillBlack wrote: "What does it mean when a company owned by rich white ppl begins censoring black people? Is this the white nationalism I should be scared of?"
She added: "They said it was for harassment and bullying. I literally just read the girl's list [of demands] out loud."
Reddit users are now building a record of all the videos which have been put into a limited state.
Many of the videos have clearly offensive.
Others discuss controversial, contested and highly inflammatory scientific theories about the link between race and intelligence.
Nazi videos featured heavily on the current list, with Hitler's speeches and even the Nazi national anthem being limited.
But amongst material that is clearly shocking and likely to cause grave offence are videos which discuss political issues such as the migrant crisis using non-extreme language.