YouTube Creates ‘Limbo’ for Controversial Videos

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by Anita Carey  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  August 3, 2017   

Internet tech companies working together to disrupt ability to use internet

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SAN BRUNO, Calif. (ChurchMilitant.com) - YouTube and other internet technology companies are rolling out new procedures to stop "controversial religious content" from publishing on its site.

Announced on their blog Tuesday, YouTube has created a "limited state" where videos can be placed that will prevent them from getting attention. Videos placed there will be ones that are not illegal but have been flagged by users as potentially containing hate speech.

YouTube then reviews the videos, and if they are found to contain "controversial religious or supremacist content," they will be placed behind an interstitial, where it won't be recommended or monetized and will not have comments, likes or suggested videos.

Last month, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube formed the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism to work together to "employ and leverage technology" to "disrupt terrorists' ability to use the internet in furthering their causes." The goals of this initiative are to include other companies in the coalition and become a resource for other companies by providing training in best practices.

This is evidenced by YouTube's commitment to apply Jigsaw's Redirect Method to searches — created by a think tank owned by Google and already being employed for Google searches. YouTube notes when sensitive keywords are used in a search, "they will be redirected towards a playlist of curated YouTube videos that directly confront and debunk violent extremist messages."

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Robert Spencer

Church Militant spoke with Robert Spencer, a well-known expert on Islam who has led seminars with the FBI and armed forces, appearing on numerous news programs about the effectiveness of the redirect method. He told us, "For many years, whenever one Googled 'jihad,' Jihad Watch was the first result. This was back in the days when Google's results were based on the relevance of the subject matter to the search and the popularity of the site. But now, if you search for 'jihad,' Google will give you a whole page full of Islamic apologetics, and Jihad Watch doesn't appear on the front page at all."

He reported that his site, JihadWatch.org, once had tens of thousands of referrals from Facebook and Twitter that have now trickled down to only a couple hundred and dropping. He explains that it is not because his readership has plummeted, saying, "No, quite the contrary. It is because Google is now fully committed to not allowing people to search the internet but to controlling what they find when they do," adding, "Incidentally, when one googles 'Robert Spencer' now, the Southern Poverty Law Center's hit piece on me comes up before my own website bio."

YouTube claims to be working with several groups including the No Hate Speech Movement and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue to identify content that is "being used to radicalize and recruit extremists."

YouTube is also planning to use "cutting-edge machine learning technology" that they boast is "faster and more effective." They claim, "Over 75 percent of the videos we've removed for violent extremism over the past month were taken down before receiving a single human flag."

They also claim the tools "have proven more accurate than humans at flagging videos that need to be removed." That claim is hotly debated by many, especially Michelle Malkin, who complained YouTube banned her video First, They Came, but not the Imams' radicalizing videos calling for killing innocent people — videos such as Imam Ammar Shahin's "Annihilate the Jews" sermon, which is is still up on the site.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism plans on actively recruiting other internet technology companies to join them. Snap Inc. and Justpaste.it have already joined, committing to increase the "hash-sharing database for violent terrorist imagery."

Church Militant asked Spencer if there are any other options for promoting his site, and he replied that there aren't, saying, "The only recourse we have is to call attention to this until the backlash against these social media giants grows so large that their power is broken."

 

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Anita Carey

Anita Carey is a staff writer for ChurchMilitant.com.