YouTube Bans Terrorism Videos; Don't You Feel Much Safer?

from the I-know-I-don't dept

Back in May we wrote about Senator Joseph Lieberman demanding that YouTube remove a bunch of videos of terrorists. At the time, YouTube reviewed the videos in question, and took down the ones that violated the site's terms of service, but left most of them up, noting that the ones they left up did not promote hate speech nor show violence. As we pointed out at the time, trying to ban terrorists from posting videos to YouTube seems incredibly short-sighted. First, it won't work. Those videos will quickly pop back up on other sites that won't take them down. Second, most of those videos are preaching to the choir. It's unlikely that very many people are being recruited to the terrorists' causes by a grainy video on YouTube. Third, letting terrorists post their videos to a mainstream site like YouTube should help authorities figure out who's posting the videos and where they're coming from. Fourth, and most important, one of the key founding principles of this country is the right to free speech, no matter how much one might disagree with that speech. But, part of that principle is that it allows people to respond. So, yes, the videos may be pure propaganda, but there's no reason that people can't respond to the videos and show why they're propaganda and wrong. Confronting your critics is a reasonable stance. Demanding that they cannot speak is not.

Yet, a bunch of folks have been sending in links to a story claiming that Google has now caved to Sen. Lieberman, and will now ban terrorist videos on YouTube. The article says that YouTube's new terms of service will ban footage that "advertises" terrorism or "extremist causes," which seems pretty broad, and certainly open to abuse. The article describes some videos that show how to commit violent acts -- but those were already banned by YouTube, so that's rather misleading. These new terms are more disturbing. It's not going to stop the videos, it's just going to make it harder to keep track of them, harder to counter them -- all while making the terrorists feel more legitimate.

Terrorists should be tracked down and stopped -- absolutely. But we should be dealing with the actual problem of terrorists, not some videos they made.

Filed Under: joseph lieberman, propaganda, terrorism, videos
Companies: google, youtube


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  1. identicon
    Jake, 12 Sep 2008 @ 6:16pm

    I'm honestly kind of conflicted on this. Yes, there's a danger that it will be abused, and it probably won't do much more than force the various crazies using the Internet to solicit murder and incite riots to shell out for their own web-space and maybe a domain name. However, it does raise my opinion of YouTube a little; I firmly believe that platform providers should take reasonable precautions to ensure that their service isn't being used for criminal purposes. I just hope they're not going to rely on this entirely imaginary army of concerned citizens who type keywords like 'happy slapping' or 'jihad' into the search box just so they can report anyone violating YouTube's terms of service.
    And frankly, I feel like my home country's about another five million layoffs and another five percent on the rate of inflation from descending into anarchy or fascism. Anything that might make it even a little bit harder for some nutjob to nudge us in that direction looks pretty good to me right now.

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