CST: ‘Google must do more to curb web hate’


The Community Security Trust has criticised Google after the company said it would be removing adverts from antisemitic and extremist content hosted on its YouTube platform — while failing to take down the offensive material itself.

More than 250 brands — including Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Toyota — have now pulled their advertising in the wake of the growing scandal over Google’s failure to prevent extremist content from hate preachers, rape apologists and homophobic extremists banned from the UK flooding its platforms.

Apologising amid growing anger over the issue, Matt Brittin, head of Google Europe, admitted the firm did not plan to employ any extra staff to search out and delete extremist content.

Instead Mr Brittin said the company, which is believed to earn around £50 million a year from YouTube revenues, would now make changes to its policies on advertising to “raise the bar” on what is categorised as hate speech, and make it easier to control where brands appear.

But Mark Gardner, CST director of communications, told the JC: “This news that Google will remove adverts from hate sites leaves us in a worse position.

“It means they have, at last, agreed to find and assess hate sites — but their decision is to leave them in place, whilst only removing the adverts. Profit is all that ultimately matters to these companies.”

On Tuesday, Robert Buckland MP, the Solicitor General, said Google could even be prosecuted under anti-terrorism legislation if it fails to remove illegal content.

Giving evidence to MPs in the wake of the scandal, Mr Buckland said the internet giant would be criminally liable if it was found to have “recklessly” circulated videos posted by far-right antisemitic organisations such as National Action, which was proscribed as a terrorist organisation in December.

Sarah Newton, a Home Office minister, said Google was now losing hundreds of millions of pounds of advertising revenue as a result of the scandal — and claimed the company risked going out of business unless it cleaned up its act.

Mr Gardner added: “It requires YouTube and others like Facebook to accept their responsibility as publishers, meaning they need to properly monitor what they themselves are publishing.

“This is basic behaviour expected of any newspaper or TV company, including on their own websites: but these massive internet and social media companies claim to be magically different.

“They hide behind the sheer size of their operation, taking the profits, but leaving it to groups like CST to spend our limited time and resource bringing complaints and then arguing for removals.”

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