YouTube censors controversial video in the Middle East

YouTube censors controversial video in the Middle East

Summary: YouTube has blocked a video which is considered anti-Islamic after the film caused violent protests in Egypt and Libya.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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SamBacileMuhammadMovie

The video shows clips from a film called "The Innocence of Muslims", depicting Prophet Mohammed as a philanderer who approves of sexual child abuse. The 14-minute low budget film caused outrage in conservative Muslim groups, who then stormed the U.S. embassy in Cairo on Tuesday and replaced an American flag with an Islamic banner. Later in the evening, the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was burned down.

As a result, the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three members of his staff were killed.

The video has not been removed from YouTube, but access to it has been blocked in Egypt and Libya. Google rarely comments on individual videos or restricts access when it doesn't break the site's terms of service, but considering recent events, the firm issued a public statement:

"We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions. This can be a challenge because what's OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere. This video -- which is widely available on the web -- is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube.

However, given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt we have temporarily restricted access in both countries. Our hearts are with the families of the people murdered in yesterday's attack in Libya."

A user called Sam Bacile uploaded the film on July 2. Once dubbed into Arabic, the video gained notoriety once played on TV networks in Egypt.

President Obama condemned the attacks, saying that he would "bring justice to the killers who attacked our people."

"We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others," said Obama. "But there is absolutely no justification for this type of senseless violence, none."

The case for temporary or geographically-limited censorship is a minefield. It's easy to understand why YouTube would feel political pressure due to the film's violent consequences -- but in turn, making the decision to pro-actively censor its content may lead the company down a slippery slope.

Topic: Tech Industry

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28 comments
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  • YouTube is doing the right thing.

    This isn't putting YouTube on a slippery slope, it puts them on a responsible one. If we want the world to embrace our free-speech ethos, we need to show that we understand the unwavering responsibilities that come with that inalienable right.
    mclarke15
    • I clearly don't understand your position

      I agree YouTube can independently choose to restrict or not. They are not a government agency.

      I do not agree that they have an unwavering responsibility to withdraw anything that strongly offends me.
      SlimSam
    • Re:

      Watching this video is optional, you are not forced to do it. Censuring is always bad, even when you disagree with the message. Yes, the video was controversial. But it falls under the freedom of speech and the movie maker has the right to make it. Don't watch it if you do not like it.
      Martijn2
    • Free speech and censoring, via blocking of a movie, are contradictions,

      therefore, your statements make no sense whatsoever.

      The people in the middle-east are not looking for free speech, and it would be a completely foreign idea to them. Their "bible" is contradictory to free speech, and their religion is not tolerant of any free speech.
      adornoe
    • I agree TOTALLY!!!

      I agree with YouTube for removing this sick video. In MY OPINION (ANYTHING that endangers American's lives (ANYWHERE), SHOULD be EDITED OR REMOVED) First off the acting was TERRIBLE as was the premise. Also I do not agree with the notion that THIS Video was the direct result in the death of the Ambassador. MOST Intelligence agencies think (and I agree) that this was an opportunity for them (Al-Qaeda) to make a concerted attack on the Embassy & it's personnel. After all, NONE of the demonstrators were shown carrying Rockets (which were used to kill the Ambassador).
      j_schutts@...
  • In all basics....

    I watched the whole video, it was a comedy. These muslums don't understand comedy, only killing. What would you expect from a 3rd(?) world country?
    fm-usa
    • Not all 3rd world countries are as irrational as those in the middle-east.

      3rd World refers to conditions, such as "poor" and sub-standard.

      The middle-east is poor in the sense of freedoms and tolerance, otherwise, many of them are not as "poor" economically, as other 3rd world countries.
      adornoe
      • Primitive culture

        A more apt description would be countries with primitive cultures(where superstition rules) since many 3rd world countries adopt modern societal norms.
        ammohunt
  • The film didn't cause violent protests in Libya and Egypt

    Radicals stirring up a mob caused the violence. They used the film as motivation, but they would have found other sources if not the film. Remember that violence started on the anniversary of 9/11/01, a cause for celebration among radical Islamist.
    eweingartner@...
  • What do you mean "as a result"

    The murder of the U.S. ambassador was not the "result" of the consulate burning down, the man was killed by islamic jihadists.

    You know, a couple of pieces of human debris made a vile musical that gives a disgusting treatment of one of the largest religious denominations in America. Their response: They bought some ad space in the playbill saying "you've seen the play, now read the book."

    What happened in Cairo and in Libya is completely unjustifiable by any movie someone made. What happened is a bunch of murderous barbarians, in the name of their sick religion and twisted god, murdered a U.S. ambassador. If anything, the mob in Cairo was inflamed by the DNC mentioning the death of bin Laden 21 times in their convention. After all, the mob was chanting: "We are a billion Osamas, Obama" as they stormed the embassy.
    baggins_z
    • IOW, Obama and the democrats caused the riots and deaths in Lybia & Egypt?

      Careful! You might start riots here in the U.S. from the intolerant lefties, who are just as intolerant as the Muslims in the middle-east.
      adornoe
  • Are we supposed to sensor just to cater to Muslims?

    So I know their are Youtube videos that no doubt attack woman, Blacks, other ethnic groups and certain people or religion. Its called freedom of speech. It does not mean everyone agrees with their view. The Muslim extremists who already hate the US and what it stands for will no doubt use these types of attacks on the Muslim faith to justify killing. Not sure how that fits into their so called peaceful religious beliefs? But again its an excuse more then anything. But, in my view I am surprised that the US State dept or President Obama is surprised by this violence? Really? You think because you helped liberate Libya and its people that all of a sudden they will all be indebted to the US forever? I think the US in every conflict it get's into feels like it should expect a ticker tape parade from the people it liberated like it did in WW 1 and WW 2. But that simply is not the case and frankly has not been the case since those World wars.
    jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376
    • There was no liberation of the people in Lybia.

      There was a change of the people in power, but, otherwise, the people are still ruled by the same type of mentality that ruled before.

      There can NEVER be a liberation of any people's in the middle-east, as long as their religion is the rule of law and their form of government and their ideology. Thinking outside what their bible dictates is forbidden, therefore, they're trapped and imprisoned.
      adornoe
  • the Media is now trying to portray the murderers as fring militant extremis

    the Media is now trying to portray the murderers as fring militant extremists rather than faithful muslims fighting against a perceived religious injustice.
    it's too bad that their religion labels as blasphemy any attempt at telling them the truth about their beloved prophet, the creator of their religion.
    it's also very bad that Google would feel the need to squelch free speech just to refrain from offending the poor sensitive faithful.
    this sets a dangerous precedent.
    maybe Mormons should start killing people who bad-mouth Joseph Smith to get a little respect.
    maybe Christians should start killing people who denigrate Jesus to stop the persecution.
    in short, Censorship seems to authorize the violence instead of standing against it.

    :)
    .
    wessonjoe
    • A weak and pathetic god.

      The problem is that the god of Mohammed is weak and powerless. The God of Jews and Christians says "Vengence is mine". Many places in the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament, it tells us to leave vengence up to him. The pathetic Mohammedan god needs his followers to kill people if he is insulted.
      annnon
      • Ignoramus

        You do realize that the "god" of Jews Christians and Muslims is the same thing?
        zenzen@...
        • So the Mohammedans say, but obviously not!

          The Mohammedan god has its origin in the moon god of the Arabs. That black stone in Mecca is the center of Mohammedan worship and towards which they pray five times a day. The God of the Bible claims to be powerful and that he needs no one to protect his name. The god of the Mohammedans is powerless, by their own admission, and requires them to kill those who speak against him.
          annnon
  • They just don't understand

    Freedom of speech is such an alien concept to the religionists. They could never possibily understand the true meaning, as it is anathema to their creed, and that applies to our own flavor of nuts here in the U.S., too, such as Terry Jones or Osama bin Robertson.
    omb00900@...
    • Odd, I didn't see Terry Jones or Pat Robertson

      incite a mob to violence or murder when people disagreed with them or insulted them. But you go right ahead and keep lying to yourself that all religious philosophies are equal.
      baggins_z
  • Mob Mentality

    I guess if you have a mob mentality you can get BIG corporations do what you want. We need to pull our people and money of of these countries as well as pull out and move the U.N. out of the US.
    millerj@...