Senator Lieberman Tries Hunting Down Terrorist Videos On YouTube

from the easier-than-finding-real-terrorists dept

Folks in Congress sure are scared of any kind of popular new internet application being used by terrorists -- quite often blaming the technology rather than looking for ways to use it to their advantage. They've targeted file sharing networks, Second Life and the whole internet as being terrorist havens. Now, Senator Joe Lieberman, who heads the Senate Committee on Homeland Security is upset with Google for letting terrorists post videos on YouTube. Last week he sent a note asking them to take all of the videos down. YouTube employees went through the videos and took down the ones that violated the site's terms of service, but left most of them up, as they neither showed violence nor promoted hate speech. Lieberman is not too happy about this and has sent a second letter, asking that the videos be taken down.

This seems particularly silly for a variety of reasons. First off, it's most likely that these types of videos are preaching to the choir. It's hard to see too many folks watching some poorly produced al-Qaeda propaganda videos and suddenly deciding to join up. But, more importantly, by leaving these videos out in the open, it allows lots of folks to respond to them, criticize them and show them up for the awful propaganda they represent. In other words, why be scared of these videos when you can actually respond? Trying to force them offline suggests that we don't think we can win the argument (and even helps to legitimize those who put up the videos). If these videos are promoting ignorant propaganda, the best response is to rebut, refute or even ridicule them -- not bury them. Finally, leaving the videos up gives the government an excellent way to track what the groups are doing, rather than having their actions hidden away on other sites. If they got taken offline by Google/YouTube it would be a matter of minutes before they showed up on other sites where it might even be more difficult for US officials to track them and see what messages terrorists are spreading. Weren't we fighting against terrorists to stand up for principles like free speech and the belief that speech can be a weapon against propaganda?

Filed Under: free speech, joe lieberman, terrorists, videos
Companies: google, youtube


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 May 2008 @ 12:32pm

    I totally agree here. That's how the KKK shrank to the size it is now. If you shove something under the rug it will fester and become an underground movement. If you expose it to the sunlight, people see how silly it is.

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