White House Still Cool with YouTube

    March 3, 2009
    Chris Crum

There have been numerous reports claiming that the White House has stopped using YouTube for its video addresses to the nation. According to both the White House and Google, this is not the case.

"That report is wrong," says Steve Grove of YouTube. "The White House decision does not mean that the White House has stopped using YouTube. The White House continues to post videos to its YouTube channel, as do other agencies like the U.S. Department of Education and the State Department. These channels are part of a broader effort within the General Services Administration (GSA) to help federal agencies communicate directly with citizens on YouTube."

According to the New York Times, the White House also denies shunning YouTube. What the White House did do was use a different video player (hosted by whitehouse.gov itself) in the latest Presidential address.

White House Hosted Video Player

The previous addresses are still featured at WhiteHouse.gov with YouTube players, but slightly altered ones. The new YouTube player does not send cookies until a visitor plays the video, and it features a prominent link to YouTube’s privacy policy.

White House YouTube Player

This is what led to the whole ordeal in the first place. Privacy advocates were concerned about cookies being sent even when a visitor to the site didn’t play the video. Here’s what the White House privacy policy says:

For videos that are visible on WhiteHouse.gov, a ‘persistent cookie’ is set by third party providers when you click to play a video.  (We may experience some engineering difficulties as the new Whitehouse.gov is posted and reviewed.  We intend, however, to fully enforce the above provisions as soon as possible.  If you are experiencing any difficulties, please contact us.)

This persistent cookie is used by some third party providers to help maintain the integrity of video statistics. A waiver has been issued by the White House Counsel’s office to allow for the use of this persistent cookie.

If you would like to view a video without the use of persistent cookies, a link to download the video file is typically provided just below the video.

The White House says the use of its own player on the last address was just an experiment. Everybody will be anxious to see what format the administration chooses for the next one.