Google Counters Lieberman

By John Hazard  |  Posted 2008-05-20 Print this article Print

YouTube won't be the good soldier Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn) would like it to be.

Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, has been on Google's case to remove videos from YouTube that are produced by terrorist groups such as al-Qaida.

Lieberman claims the videos depict violence and disseminate terrorist propaganda, much of it harmful to U.S. interests.

On this Google and the senator are in agreement. Unfortunately, that's the end of agreement. Google is willing to chop videos that depict violence, advocate violence or use hate speech, but political messages, even those promoting a terrorist ideology or opposing U.S. interests, are A-OK by YouTube's Community Guidelines, which protect freedom of speech, Google's YouTube team told Lieberman.

Google, with help from Lieberman's staff, reviewed hundreds of videos this week and last, and ultimately removed 80 videos that it found didn't meet the violence and hate speech smell test. (It isn't that hard ... most of them are branded with logos or icons.) Most of the videos that did not contain violence or hate speech were left untouched.

In a May 19 letter to Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt, Lieberman said:

"Islamist terrorist organizations use YouTube to disseminate their propaganda, enlist followers, and provide weapons training -- activities that are all essential to terrorist activity. ... YouTube also, unwittingly, permits Islamist terrorist groups to maintain an active, pervasive, and amplified voice..."

Google's response was to say that, the groups, while despicable, have a right to the forum:

"While we respect and understand [Lieberman's] 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. Of course, users are always free to express their disagreement with a particular video on the site, by leaving comments or their own response video. That debate is healthy." |

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