Friday, 17 November, 2017

YouTube has removed thousands of videos from extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki

Anwar al-Awlaki YouTube has removed thousands of videos from extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki
Kristine Garrett | 14 November, 2017, 14:42

The change will affect videos that don't feature acts of violence or hateful speech (which are already barred), and the move signals further efforts by the company to prevent the spread of extremist propaganda that could help radicalize viewers, as it comes under pressure from various governments to do so.

Awlaki was deemed a martyr by various Islamic extremists after he was killed in a drone strike ordered by the Obama administration in 2011.

In 2010, Google removed hundreds of the radical cleric's videos that directly advocated violence after the conviction of Roshonara Choudhry for attempting to kill British MP Stephen Timms.

Despite his death in a U.S. drone strike in 2011, Awlaki's legacy lived on with more than 70,00o videos accessible on YouTube.

According to the Times, YouTube now automatically flags Awlaki's videos and human reviewers intermediate when an Awlaki lecture is uploaded to the site.

A search on Monday morning for the extremist cleric's name now shows 18,300 results, down from a reported 70,000 past year. The officials told the Times that while their rules prohibit videos that incite terrorism, removing all of al Awlaki's videos is a special case.

"It's a watershed moment on the question of whether we're going to allow the unchecked proliferation of cyberjihad", said Mark D. Wallace, chief executive of the Counter Extremism Project, a research organization that has previously called for Awlaki's recordings to be removed from the web.

While Juniper Downs, YouTube's global director of public policy, noted this week that such measures could make it more hard for certain videos to gain an audience, I believe there's greater merit in creating a space that's free of extremist content and safer for people across the world to use.

Recently, Google, Facebook and Twitter admitted that their platforms were used by Russian operatives during the 2016 presidential election to spread propaganda created to influence political opinion and sway the vote.

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