YouTube again refuses to remove videos glorifying terrorism

The video-sharing giant hardens its stance after the JC exposed a succession of hate-filled clips on on the site


Controversial author Abdel Bari Atwan speaks during the Brisbane Writers festival in Brisbane, 15 September 2007. Atwan, editor of London-based newspaper Al-Quds Al Arabi is the last western author to interview Osama Bin Laden and author of The Secret History of al-Qaeda. Australian government critics have accused the government of deliberately delaying the visa to grant Atwan entry into the country, in order to miss speaking at the festival, which ends September 16. AFP PHOTO/Heather Faulkner (Photo by Heather Faulkner / AFP) (Photo by HEATHER FAULKNER/AFP via Getty Images)

YouTube has refused to take down videos that glorify terrorists and promote antisemitic conspiracy theories in a move that the UK’s former independent reviewer of anti-terror legislation said “beggars belief”.

It comes after the JC exposed a succession of hate-filled clips on the video-sharing giant, many of which YouTube was eventually forced to remove. But now the company appears to be hardening its stance.

Last week, the site hosted a clip in which controversial commentator Abdel Bari Atwan railed against “Jewish Israeli lobbies” in Parliament, calling the terrorists who killed Israelis “martyrs” and describing their actions as “a legitimate right”.

He also blamed Mossad for the removal of his previous YouTube video praising the murder of Israelis in Tel Aviv, which was taken down after it was exposed by the JC. But when we brought the latest clips to YouTube’s attention, a spokesperson said: “YouTube’s community guidelines prohibit violent extremism and hate speech. The flagged videos have been reviewed and do not violate our policies.”

Lord Carlile, a leading law expert and former reviewer of UK anti-terror legislation, said: “It is clear from the penetrating investigation carried out by the JC that hateful material all too easily is finding its way onto YouTube, because of inadequate moderation and editorial policies. It beggars belief that YouTube does not recognise that describing terrorists as ‘martyrs’ has the potential to radicalise and activate potential terrorists.”

The QC and crossbench peer added: “If YouTube and other social networking facilities cannot control the spread of such material, they will bring upon themselves the heavy hand of government. Self-regulation can work, but only if effective.”

The media watchdog CAMERA has identified other videos posted by Mr. Atwan that appear to breach YouTube’s rules on glorifying terror.

In a March 2019 clip, which attracted more than 300,000 views, for example, he described a Palestinian who killed a rabbi as a “wonderful youth”.

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