Google ‘terminates’ Cook County court YouTube feed for ‘terms of service violations’

Visitors to the Cook County court’s YouTube page received this message on Friday, August 19, 2022. | YouTube

Google has “terminated” the Cook County court system’s YouTube account, which Chief Judge Timothy Evans’s office has used for over two years to provide live stream access to court proceedings.

“The [office of the chief judge] is not aware of any particular instance that would have precipitated the action, but understands that court proceedings are sometimes graphic in nature and not suitable for all audiences,” Evans’ spokesperson said in a statement.

The court filed an appeal with YouTube and had been told to expect a response within two business days, according to Evans’ office.

People who visited the court’s YouTube channel as of early Friday were greeted with the following message:

This account has been terminated due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy against spam, deceptive practices, and misleading content or other Terms of Service violations.

“Until the … YouTube account is re-established, the press and public may attend Circuit Court of Cook County proceedings in person at the time and date of the scheduled hearing,” Evans’ statement said.

Evans launched YouTube access in the early days of the COVID pandemic to provide transparency and access while courtrooms were closed. Since then, the feeds, particularly the daily bail hearings for people newly accused of crimes, have grown in popularity and importance.

Family members can watch bail hearings from home, then make plans to win the release of loved ones without traveling to the courthouse, for example. The YouTube feeds also provide wider access to the public and far greater transparency.

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