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Posted at 11:50 AM ET, 12/14/2010

YouTube terrorism? I'm definitely flagging Justin Bieber

By Alexandra Petri

YouTube now lets you flag videos for promoting terrorism?

On the one hand, this is an encouragingly democratic process. But, like most democratic processes, this leaves it vulnerable to manipulation by people who think it is hilarious to flag a video of their neighbor's synchronized Christmas lights as "promoting terrorism."

But as the person who calls customer service hotlines and tries to blame Proctor & Gamble for my problems -- "And that's why your body-wash proves to me that love does not exist" -- I worry about the abuse potential for this.

You know all those times that someone turns to you at a Justin Bieber concert and murmurs, "This is why they hate us?" Now there's a button for that.

That seems like asking for it.

Where to begin? Ke$ha? I'm generally a peaceable individual, so much so that I am highly in request when lions need things to lie down with in order to demonstrate that they have changed. But when I watched "Tik Tok," I was so angry and frustrated that I said something very rude to a waiter, even though he had done nothing wrong to me personally. If Ke$ha's oeuvre could have this effect on me, I imagine that it would be wildly effective propaganda in the wrong hands. So in the interest of protecting our country, I have flagged all her videos -- or will as soon as I finish writing this.

Next, the shakeweight commercials. I think that all this apparent concern about upper arm fat is like telling the world "we are a weak and frivolous nation," not to mention the fact that the commercials themselves seem vaguely suspect. I can't put my finger on it, but I wasn't paying much attention when they explained the birds and the bees, or during the subsequent Clinton Era, which I like to refer to as "The Birds and Bees Recap."

As I moved through the list of most popular YouTube videos, I was struck by how often I could see their encouraging terrorist activity. YouTube isn't like film, where you go out to theaters and have to publicly declare that, yes, you would like to see "Step Up: 3D" a second time. On YouTube, nobody is there to judge, except for the tailored ads out of which you cannot opt. So you can watch a cat running into a wall until it amasses thousands of views. Or this particularly pertinent and exceptional video. YouTube, as an institution, is walking proof that Americans are weak, lazy, and easily entertained.

My flagging became frenzied. I had to save our country from its enemies! No one could see our weakness! And YouTube is one giant weakness! Finally I had flagged everything on YouTube except for a long clip of a giant flag waving majestically and Ronald Reagan's "Morning Again In America" commercial.

It just seemed like the right thing to do.

By Alexandra Petri  | December 14, 2010; 11:50 AM ET
Categories:  Only on the Internet, Petri, Seems Suspect  | Tags:  America, YouTube, oops  
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The 'cookie and milk' industries have probably "flagged" the little red headed girl's cheese industry's advertisement by now.
As she sneaks downstairs on Christmas morning, her eyes behold a Masserati car, Tiffany jewels, bags of gold coins, a wingtip from a learjet and presents wrapped like no one at Macy's could ever imagine, in the living room.
When her dad states that it must have been quite a batch of cookies to get Santa to be so generous, ... she beams back, : "I left him some cheese"....

Posted by: deepthroat21 | December 14, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Akkkk! I just Rick-rolled myself!

Posted by: talleyl | December 14, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

12/14/10, the day Alex sent a rickroll using WaPo as an unwitting pawn. Never Forget.

Posted by: purpledrank | December 14, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

I have to admit that Petri just popped my rickroll cherry. All I can say, Alex, is:

Never gonna give you up.
Never gonna say good bye.
And DT: Loved the Christmas cheese commercial at:

But I flagged this cheese commercial as "rodent terrorism."

Posted by: divtune | December 15, 2010 1:12 AM | Report abuse

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