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

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.