Google holds firm against Lieberman's call to take down Islamist videos

Google holds firm against Lieberman's call to take down Islamist videos

Summary: Sen. Joe Lieberman wants Google to take down terrorist videos from YouTube.


Sen. Joe Lieberman wants Google to take down terrorist videos from YouTube. In a letter to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Lieberman wrote:

Many of the videos produced by one of the production arms of al-Qaeda show attacks on U.S. forces in which American soldiers are injured and, in some cases, killed. Nevertheless, those videos remain available for viewing on YouTube. At the same time, the guidelines do not prohibit the posting of content that can be readily identified as produced by al-Qaeda or another FTO. I ask you, therefore, to immediately remove content produced by Islamist terrorist organizations from YouTube. This should be a straightforward task since so many of the Islamist terrorist organizations brand their material with logos or icons identifying their provenance. In addition, please explain what changes Google plans to make to the YouTube community guidelines to address violent extremist material and how Google plans to enforce those guidelines to prevent the content from reappearing.

Shockingly, Google declined, according to this report.

While we respect and understand his views, YouTube encourages free speech and defends everyone's right to express unpopular points of view. We believe that YouTube is a richer and more relevant platform for users precisely because it hosts a diverse range of views, and rather than stifle debate, we allow our users to view all acceptable content and make up their own minds.”

Further, “most of the videos, which did not contain violent or hate speech content, were not removed because they do not violate our Community Guidelines."

Lieberman was motivated to write this letter after the committee he chairs, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released a report (PDF) that supposedly documents how there are "videos - readily available on YouTube -show assassinations, deaths of U.S. soldiers and civilians, weapons training, incendiary speeches by al-Qaeda leadership, and other material intended to encourage violence against the West."

Yet this report contains only one reference to YouTube – the Dirty Kuffar video, which has these lovely lyrics:

Peace to Hamas and the Hezbollah OBL pulled me like a shiny star Like the way we destroyed them two towers ha-ha The minister Tony Blair, there my dirty Kuffar The one Mr. Bush, there my dirty Kuffar Throw them on the fire.

Offensive as the video may be, it is clearly not violent or hate speech. If it advocates terrorism, it does so in the most general sort of way. It is not an incitement to violence but an attempt to develop "mindshare" for radical Islam. That is, it's clearly political speech and Lieberman's letter smacks of government restraint of unpopular political speech. Lieberman should produce a list of videos that are worthy of take-down; if Dirty Kuffar is all he has, the committee should move on to dealing with actual threats.

Topics: Google, Social Enterprise

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  • Shocking??

    Why is it "Shocking" that Google seeks to protect free speech??
    Sorry, some Americans still believe in the constitution and the bill of rights.
    Sorry you are not one of us.
    "Shocking"? Indeed!!
    • Er, shocking

      In that a company wouldn't just kowtow to screams of terrorism.
      • Unless, of course

        it was a video along the lines of the Dutch "editorial cartoon" that got the Arab world in an uproar.

        I wonder how long Google would something let [i]that[/i] sit on YouTube?
    • I'm shocked too.

      Sorry, I disagree. We are at war and freedom of speech should be to enhance the war effort not tempt more resistance by the enemy.
  • RE: Google holds firm against Lieberman's call to take down Islamist videos

    Lieberman is an idiot.
    • Lieberman is an idiot

      What if Google did take down Arab videos, then the Arabs asked Google to take down Jewish videos? I guess they would have to comply, or be accused of double standards. road to hell paved with idiotic intentions...
      • Take it down

        If it hurts the war effort, you damn right, it should be taken down.
  • RE: Google holds firm against Lieberman's call to take down Islamist videos

    Lieberman it would seem has more allegiance to Israel than to the US constitution which guarantees free speech.
    • Uh, not exactly

      Except in time of war.
  • RE: Google holds firm against Lieberman's call to take down Islamist videos

    "In addition, please explain what changes Google plans to make" Google is a business, not a child! I'm glad they are defending freedom of speech - and Lieberman's letter doesn't just "smack" of censorship! I am also impressed with their diplomatic response to a demand that merits no reply beyond a rude hand gesture.
  • RE: Google holds firm against Lieberman's call to take down Islamist videos

    Yeeaah go Google!
  • RE: Google holds firm against Lieberman's call to take down Islamist videos

    Lieberman, it would seem has more allegiance to Israel than he does to the US constitution which guarantees free speech.
  • RE: Google holds firm against Lieberman's call to take down Islamist videos

    I think - from my own point of view - that if google starts to investigate and then "deal" with such videos that there is gonna be loads of mis-understandings, simply because they would be dealing with a totally different culture here, and a totally different language.

    If there are such videos as the respected Senator says - and i believe there are - the act of deletion and/or banning of such messages from youtube will result in more confusion and frustration, will open up the gates of hell against the image of youtube thus google, that is in front of masses of Muslim and Arab visitors of the famous website.

    One of the catches here is, say for example if there is a Muslim preacher with a beard talking vigorously about the killings being done in Iraq or in Palestine (for example) and accusing the United States military of being the entity causing such agony, then praying to God to take the lives of those who murdered the children, the women, and the old men. Will that be viewed as "material that promotes hate speech by terrorist organizations"?

    I am not speaking from the point of view that sees US soldiers as murderers or what not, I am just saying that everybody views the world from his own point of view according to what he was taught, and according to the different happenstances in his life. So I can't start "banning" based on the fact that "those are terrorist acts", or "Terrorist speeches that promote hatred"..

    They are simply just views of others, actions of others, and things that happen to others, by others..

    • Is ANY murderer Not Guilty?

      Thanks a_b for a viewpoint that others often overlook.
      • The argument would seem more valid if

        it applied both ways. Any videos of the war supplied from either side are arguably useful to groups to support their own views. It's a knoife that cuts both ways. I guess we could remove all videos that anyone could twist to their hate filled purposes. That would include pretty much anything all the way down to teletubbies and Bert ad Ernie.
        • Especially if

          it degrades the U. S. war efforts to win the war.
    • There has got to be more to the story

      Google seems to be trying to be neutral under the guise of freedom of speech. If Google is neutral in this war they are traitors to the country they do business in. Either they are with the U. S. efforts to win the war are they are against them.
  • would you publicize such videos?

    It seems most reasonable to assume that there are such videos as Lieberman mentions, which show weapons training, US forces being killed, etc.; and that he would rather not provide links to them in a public report, which would bring the videos more popularity. Presumably he provided, or has offered to provide, YouTube/Google with the specific links.

    While the squishiness of definitions of "hate speech" make this a difficult issue -- I would not want videos of preachers expounding biblical passages against homosexuality to be censored -- I would hope we could agree that there is no need to protect video of our own troops being killed by terrorists as free speech, any more than there is a need to protect child pornography or instructions on how to build and deploy a portable nuke to take out an urban population center.
    • Can't tell

      Without seeing what he's talking about, it's impossible to tell. The one video the report linked to, which I also linked to, is definitely political speech, IMO and it's inappropriate for the government to dictate whether it should be available. As far as vid of soldiers being killed, that could be a news report. Is it protected if it's news footage and not if it's propaganda? That seems far too subjective.

      If it's recruitment to join a force actually fighting the United States, that seems different. But if it's ideological recruitment, I have a hard time saying that should be banned. If you can ban that, you can ban religious recruitment or Nazi Party recruitment, etc.
  • Welcome to REAL life, Lieberman

    The world doesn't have to fit into your rose-colored vision of what you think people need to see.

    Are they even terrorists? Is terrorism only when a weak power attacks a strong one?

    If Lieberman wants to live in a country where video is censored to fit to political whims, why not just move to North Korea or Communist Vietnam, Joe?