Should Social Media Be Held Accountable for User Actions?

Google Case in Italy Has Serious Implications for the Web

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Update: A court document from the judge in this case has been released indicating that the for profit factor of YouTube is what makes this a crime.  A Google representative is quoted as saying:

“We are reading the full 111-page document from the judge. But as we said when the verdict was announced, this conviction attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built. If these principles are swept aside, then the Web as we know it will cease to exist, and many of the economic, social, political and technological benefits it brings could disappear. These are important points of principle, which is why we and our employees will vigorously appeal this decision.”

Original Article:
A judge in Milan, Italy has convicted three Google executives over a video uploaded to YouTube in a case, which could have serious implications for social media and ultimately, the web in general, at least in Italy. The video, uploaded back in 2006, featured a group of school kids bullying an autistic child. Google says it worked with Italian authorities to help ID the person responsible for uploading it, and the uploader and other participants from the video were sentenced to community service.

Now, in 2010, Google executives David Drummond, Peter Fleischer and George Reyes(3 out of 4 defendants) have been convicted for “failure to comply with the Italian privacy code.” They were all found not guilty of criminal defamation.

Should these Google execs be held accountable? Comment here.

“In essence this ruling means that employees of hosting platforms like Google Video are criminally responsible for content that users upload,” writes Matt Sucherman, VP and Deputy General Counsel – Europe, Middle East and Africa on the Google Blog. “We will appeal this astonishing decision because the Google employees on trial had nothing to do with the video in question.”

This is a case of a business being held accountable for user-generated content. Isn’t the entire web generated by users? What if Google’s search engine (algorithmically) indexed something illegal. Should company execs be penalized, even if they comply with authorities’ requests for removal of such content? Ask yourself these questions:

–  What if YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. had to shut down because it couldn’t control the things users post?

– What if every blogging platform had to do the same?

– What if you went to jail for comments posted on your blog?

You’re not likely going to go to jail for comments posted on your blog, but the point is, that by allowing people to post comments on your blog, you are allowing user-generated content, that you can’t necessarily control until after it’s been posted, unless you don’t let them go live until approving them. Google is being held accountable for content that users uploaded, which was not in their control until after the fact. YouTube users upload 20 hours of video every minute, according to Google.

You can see why this case is much bigger than just the specific instance it involves. The case is subject to appeal, but if it is not overturned, what will this mean for the web? Tell us what you think.

“The video was totally reprehensible and we took it down within hours of being notified by the Italian police,” says Sucherman.

“To be clear, none of the four Googlers charged had anything to do with this video,” he says. “They did not appear in it, film it, upload it or review it. None of them know the people involved or were even aware of the video’s existence until after it was removed.”

He goes on to talk about how the case “attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built,” also mentioning that European Union law dictates that hosting providers have a safe harbor from liability as long as they remove illegal content once they are notified of its existence. “If that principle is swept aside and sites like Blogger, YouTube and indeed every social network and any community bulletin board, are held responsible for vetting every single piece of content that is uploaded to them — every piece of text, every photo, every file, every video — then the Web as we know it will cease to exist, and many of the economic, social, political and technological benefits it brings could disappear,” Sucherman says.


Ruling in Italy Could have serious implications on social media uploading and user-generated content 

If rulings such as the one against these Google execs were to become commonplace, how much do you think that would affect the social media industry? Companies like Google, Facebook, MySpace, etc. couldn’t let users upload content, which essentially means social media couldn’t exist. User-generated content couldn’t exist. How could you blog? How could you leave a status update on Facebook, or upload a family photo to Picasa? There is always the possibility that some user could make a death threat or upload child porn, so if the companies behind the services that were used to commit these crimes were held accountable, how could their businesses continue?

That’s why Google is not only upset about the ruling against its executives, but calls it a “serious threat to the web.”

Should Google (or any other site) be held responsible for content that users upload (even when said content is removed)? Share your thoughts.

Should Social Media Be Held Accountable for User Actions?
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  • HanzBergmann

    … and no of course not!
    (warning contains sarcasm only in the title!)

  • http://chickmelionfreelance.blogspot.com CM Dummerauf

    I believe if you look at REUTER’S press release the prosecution contended that Google became neglegent for the time it took for them to respond to numerous complaints about the clip…. it is one thing not being aware of the content… understandably it would be next to impossible for Google to get a handle on all that floods in on a daily basis… but when an issue is presented, and has an ethical stand point should not the corporate who touted it’s companyto founded on the principle

  • http://revoltage.net jon

    if you ask me “what is the ONE human thing that has made the world evolve in a positive way in the past 30 years?” I would say THE INTERNET.

    the freedom of speech it naturally brings, the access to information it gives to almost everyone, the communities it has helped create, the power it gives to people, etc.!

    how can Italian justice even Dare make such a decision against the internet!? is it some kind of medieval religious movement? or are they trying to have control over what their people say and hear, like the Chinese or North Korean governments??? No truly, I’m wondering!

    I hope no other government will go in this direction! As for Italy, the only solution I see is going against this decision through the European Union (according to the EU laws, google wouldn’t have any implication)

  • http://hosting.qth.com Scott N

    The solution to the problem is simple. All web sites that provide user-generated content need to start blocking access to their sites from Italian IP addresses.

    This solves the initial problem of avoiding legal problems with Italy, but also when Italian citizens can no longer access much of anything interesting on the Internet, they will make sure their voices are heard, and this non-sense will stop.

    – Scott

    • http://www.blockacountry.com/ Block Italy

      That such a great idea!!! I just did a search and found this website http://www.blockacountry.com/ Now I’ve easily blocked IP addresses from Italy.

      Bye bye Italy.

  • Sandy

    Personally I believe all social networks to be a nuisance and waste of space. They encourage people to waste time in idle chit chat rather than doing sensible things. I have never understood myself why folk want to interact with virtual strangers. Seems to me they should get a life and a worthwhile occupation and hobby. I’d shut the whole flipping lot down if I could. More power to those who can.!

    • Mekhong Kurt

      Sandy, I agree with you to the extent that I wonder why people spend so much time sending inane messages over social platforms such as Facebood, MySpace, Twitter, and, via videos, YouTube. (“Boy, was my peach pizza ever delicious!”)

      But there are two issues I would like to mention.

      First, WebProNews is seeking our reactions to the ruling, not to the value — or lack of it — to social media. Such value was not a trial issue in the Italian court.

      Second, just because you, I, or anyone finds social media a waste of time doesn’t mean social media ought to be closed down. It happens I don’t care for opera; by your reasoning, opera halls should be closed down.

      I find online video games a complete waste of time; by your reasoning, they should be closed down.

      I don’t like pizza with anchovies; by your reasoning, they should be taken off menus.

      I don’t like rap music; by your reasoning, it should be barred.

      Do you see where I’m coming from?

    • http://kurttfrancis.blogspot.com Mekhong Kurt

      Possible offense # 1: Uploading a video that violates a law.

      Possible offense # 2: Not removing an offending video in a timely manner once notified of its presence.

      Google certainly didn’t upload the video. It claims the video was removed within hours of notification; that seems to eliminate any charge under # 2.

      Then there’s the wuestion of the Italian judge imposed Italian law in a manner inconsisten with EU guidelines, since Italy is an EU member and therefore bound by EU regulations. But that’s a fight for Italy and the EU, except that I think Google can appeal to an EU court, ultimately (after going through whatever steps exist in Italian law to seek remedy first).

      We see the law of unintended consequences at work here, I suspect. Courts in one country do look at precendents in other countries with comparable legal systems, if look informally, for precedents.

      In the U.S., we have held gun manufacturers liable for a criminal buying one of their guns then Bir Brother’s WATCHING you.”

      Then there’s the issue of differing definitions. Sure, if someone uploads a snuff video, that’s clearly out of bounds. But a video of a beautiful lady in a skimpy bikini, with all the private parts concealed, even if barely . . . well? Some will say yank it, others will say it’s not in violation other than one reviewer’s — censor’s — sensabilities.

      Right here in the US we have other ridiculous instances. Did you read about the little boy who took a toy policeman to school for show-and-tell for a session of “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?” — and the poor kid got kicked out of school because the toy cop had a tiny plastic GUN (SHRIEK!!!) that could be removed from the holster???

      The Italian court’s decision is one more instance of Zero Tolerance, just “over there instead of over here.”

      This time . . .

    • Guest

      –I’d shut the whole flipping lot down if I could. More power to those who can.!–

      So it’s OK deciding what others can do in their free time, what hobbies are right or wrong??????

  • Guest

    I’m sure this title sounds crazy to most of you.
    But remember, there are still countries that are not so developed in a sense of democracy as USA.
    Recently a Croatian blog owner, a journalist (I won’t mention names) was convicted to pay a substantial retribution to a person whose name and integrity were attacked by one of the anonymous visitors of his blog.
    He is also going to trial and will probably be sentenced to some jail time.
    His case was presented on national tv, and to be honest I don’t know what came out of it.
    So, you see, you CAN go to jail if someone posts an inappropriate comment on your blog.
    Only not in USA. But as important and big as it is, USA is not a whole world.

  • http://www.shapirit.biz ?????? ?????

    I think that in this case google is not responsable and the suit should be dropped.
    We should not held social media accountable for the user actions but they should help the authorities to find out who was behind the post.

    If it turns out that I am wrong we should held the government wherever you live accountable for any car accident occurred.

  • Gregg

    Social media sites should not be responsible… Espcially when they are more than willing to assist in tracking down the person(s) who uploaded information that should not have been. Social media sites have done everything within there power to keep this from happening. They scan through uploads as quickly as they can and most offer some sort of button for offensive material posted or uploaded on sites. I completely disagree with the courts and google should not be found guilty in this case. Not knowing how old the kids were who uploaded the video, but they ONLY received community service! That’s it??? In this case they should have to learn about people with handicaps and go into a program that they will learn from and assist people living with a handicap (of course supervised with their prior actions). That way they may be able to learn something from their mistakes. Now if they are truly old enough to know better (that age is hard to decide on though) then I think something a bit more than just a slap on the hand and community service should have been handed down. But they want to throw google execs into jail for something they have no control of. Plus… The article is correct! EVERYTHING on the web is user uploaded. What about porn sites and the truly disgusting sites that are allowed to be on the web. AND you can see more than most would think without having to prove you are of age. No one goes after them!

  • Guest

    I was going to visit Italy and was about to book my trip for my family. I let my 10,000.00 I was spending on hotels, food, diving and other activities an will now spend it in some other country. Italy is now considered a third word country in my opinion and my money and not buying anything made in Italy will speak louder then any words here.


    • http://www.blockacountry.com/ Block Italy

      http://www.blockacountry.com/ Website will generate a list if IP and create the file for you to block a whole country to your website. Hope all website owners follow until they rethink their third world country ways….

  • http://www.ellefagan.com Elle Fagan

    If Google really did its best to co-operate with the law to make things right in the heinous postings, it is unfair to ask more, at this writing.

    However, that does not make Google or any other of the cyberspace giants all that innocent. “Noblesse oblige” Google’s power creates responsibility.

    Food for thought:

    If the Internet is a an entire new layer to the human stratosphere, as we feel it is, then what we are seeing here is very exciting!

    WE ARE HELPING – DOING RIGHT TO CREATE SUCH CASES, and put them through the courts – and more courts worldwide should do it and get the story into the main.

    Court proceedings CREATE DATA – and precedent to be supported or overturned. And this is the data needed to be able to do better.

    We need case data to provoke thought, create focus and talk like at this forum, and among internet authorities – and perhaps inspire the successful action to PREVENT the publication of evil data, and place the blame and punishments correctly, and thus protect the general public correctly.

    Thank you for the opportunity to post my own views on this case.

    And thanks to the others who are posting here. NOT to get theatrical about it, but you are truly helping the world with your interest and input.

    Elle Fagan

  • Guest

    Although I support Google in this matter:
    Responsibility for content is a hole in the ethics of the Giants online.

    Should Google and other cyberspace giants be happy to let their financial gain be a bit more modest, as it would be, employing the ocean of attentive and COMPETENT folk needed to carefully review content before it is published?

    The wise men say that when someone makes an ocean of money , like our internet giants, that , somehow, they are certainly “skipping stuff” – it’s the human equation- a universal fact. :-)

    Perhaps responsible content review and reporting is one of the important things being “skipped”;
    one of the responsibilities that needs to be taken up, to make it all “an honest deal”.

    But do you see the internet giants volunteering to do it ? NOT.
    Even if the Giants did take up the ethic, and be better at review before publication, some would still slip through the cracks and then:

    The law says that it would still be up the USER TO REPORT any encounter with CRIMINAL REAL CONTENT TO THE POLICE. There is an aspect of common law called “failure to report” – if we have knowledge of wrongdoing, we have a legal obligation to report or risk complicity in the act.

    Can your town afford one full-time, properly trained policeman to followup on illegal media issues resports? Maybe what every town needs – and make it official.

    If Google really did its best to co-operate with the law to make things right in the heinous postings, it is unfair to ask more.

    And thanks again for posting reading my comments.
    Elle Fagan

    • Guest

      Do the maths.

      100 hours of viewing is uploaded every minute therefore in every minute you would need 100 * 60 = 6000 minutes of review undertaken.

      Given each employee would only be active for 75% of their time (breaks, fatigue – you can only concentrate for so long) that means that YouTube would need to employ 7500 people to review uploads for each 8 hour period. Since 4 shifts would be needed (people need time off) the total number of employees would be 30,000.

      At a cost of $30,000 per year + $10,000 of extra corporate costs = $40,000 per employee the total annual costs would be


      and this doesn’t account for other overheads such as managers, machines, systems, etc., etc., etc.

      and that’s just for YouTube!!!

      GET REAL.

  • http://www.ellefagan.com Elle Fagan

    This is the ethic at social media:

    OK….we all get to party till something bad happens. :-)
    And so , even in the most relaxed and liberal climate there are rules to keep it all free and clear.

    We do not experience them as rules, when it’s a party, but we DO expect that no one is going to ruin the party by breaking the rules.

    But, if a rule is broken the whole party falls down, at least for a minute, while the offending partygoer is forcibly removed or dunked in the toilet.

    Sometimes when a party begins to pall, the hostess thinks to go out for more pizza, or get someone to perform, or serve a new wine, to revive the sagging revelers – or even something as easy as opening a window to freshen the room.

    So maybe this is a path for evolution for Social media and content responsibility issues – better definition in “the group unconscious” of what is ok at the parties and maybe some power among the membership/fans/visitors to “go for pizza” or call for a “trial by peers” when something happens?

    Just a thought.

    Elle Fagan

  • Stella

    The 1 thing I taught all my children is “ACTIONS = CONSEQUENCES”
    In saying that I’m under NO illusions that my kids are angels, far from it, but telling them you CAN’T do this/say that only makes them push the boundries more and more..
    NO amount of red tape, shutting down sites, regulating what you can and can’t say about someone is going to stop some of these morons from pushing the boundries.
    The Governments and so called “experts” has efficiently taken what little control parents have over their children and thrown it away be giving them “rights” that they simply don’t have the mental capasity to use…..
    If the Governments and “experts” are that concerned its time they stopped pussy-footing around and actually GO after, charge and punish those responsible for some of the heinous postings and send a clear cut message that it’s NOT acceptable.
    NO excuses, NO 2nd, 3rd or 4th chances, NO passing the buck, strong>”NO ifs buts or maybes!!!!

    “ACTIONS = CONSEQUENCES”!! Do the crime! Pay the price!!

  • manwithsword

    I have heard, in some part of the world bull fight is famous some time seen this in TVs also. There will be a field fenced thoroughly to separate participant and visitors. Visitors here are safe and able to enjoy the purpose of their visit there.

    Google and other social medias are virtual fields, allowing participants and visitors but there is no safety fence present in this field. Where any one can hurt, exploit and abuse any one irrespective to the purpose of the visitors.

    Are we giving guns to the children? in any country is this legal? so far my knowledge its not.
    Gun is a physical object can cause death, where visuals can cause psychological impact.
    Until unless a responsible person is there to watch the posted contents it mean any thing can be there and not safe for all day use. Until unless we are in the mood to go porno club.

    Keeping the place safe is the responsibility of the provider. Users also having responsibility, iam not speaking about the exceptions. provider has to handle these exceptions.

    If they are not ready to take responsibility, its better to close the unstable place

    • Guest


    • Nell

      The Number one problem with society is no one wants to take responsibility for their own actions or even think that people should they want to blame someone or something else!

      It is not googles, or facebook or twitter or the social media’s responsibility, it is ours as an individual.

      If your kids are watching the wrong things on youtube, they are probably watching the wrong things on tv and in print! Whose fault is that!

      Take responsibility, monitor what your kids are doing, don’t whine that the big companies should do it!

      Google is not a foster parent! Don’t expect them to do your job!

  • http://www.frankwoolf.com Guest

    I think the decision is ridiculous. It makes the web almost unworkable and hundreds of thousands of sites will shut down if the decision is upheld.

    I think it is pathetic of people to say that sites should be responsible for what people post because they don’t want their children to see what is posted. These parents need to grow up and take responsibility for their children.

    If the site is willing to remove content immediately on request that should be good enough.

  • Pasu

    I think they are being unreal towards the google executives. No on can monitor a service which has millions of users to pin point the exact content that is being uploaded on their sites. Since they did their part in helping identify the person who uploaded the video in question, I think they did good. Laws should be put in place with the relevant authority to punish those who do such a think to discourage such instances from occurring but yet again we should not forget we leave in a society full of “Crazy” people so the law will always be broken by some.

    The user’s who do that should solemnly be responsible to the content which they upload in the social sites. I think most if not all sites usually operate on these Terms and therefore they should not lay the blame on the social sites.

  • http://hubpages.com/profile/dame+scribe Gin

    The charges are ridiculous and more appropriate for the times of the Inquisition. I would suggest Google shut down all services for a indeterminate time (equal to seriousness of whole charges affair?) in that country altogether- in protest. Block all access. Community service for the kids who attacked the autistic child?! this judge should be removed for such poor judgement or tested. It seems laws in Italy need to seriously get updated.

  • http://www.azlocate.com Andy Anderson

    Plain and simple this ruling is dangerous ground. Where does it stop, will search engines be next? I mean very few engines pull only from D-moz and other human edited directories. Could we be arrested, tried and jailed in Italy for a link submitted that contains illegal content?

    Google must challenge this. The people of Italy must challenge this as well or the result will be IP banning on all non Italian websites cutting them off from outside access to the web. No Google, No Yahoo, No MySPace, or Facebook, just local owned stuff for fear of our rights being violated by Italian law and the webmasters being held liable for content we never had our hands or eyes on. The cost to human moderate a site like YouTube on every video post is too high for even Google to afford, Italy must stop this insanity.

    Andy Anderson
    AZ Locate Search Engine

    • Paulas De Souza

      Just because it is Google does not reduce its responsibility to moderate its content. The larger it wants to be the more it needs to ensure that its content is moderated. It is the responsibility of the provider/host to ensure that such content is not uploaded. It is like saying do not hold a person who allows people to do drugs in their home accountable. The person needs to moderate the people they allow in and then their doings too, the larger the party the larger the work force employed to ensure moderation.

      Ignorantia juris non excusat – Google or any large portal cannot claim ignorance based on the usage of their social platforms, they are responsible for providing the system and moderating it. If need be employ moderators among the network people and afford them additional privileges on the portals.

      • http://www.ghostnewmedia.co.uk David Fuller

        “It is like saying do not hold a person who allows people to do drugs in their home accountable.”

        Is it not more like saying you should hold a person responsible who rents a house to someone who then does drugs and when the owner finds out kicks them out?

        This ruling is a joke as is your post…. I wonder if this website owners will go to jail for that comment!

  • http://www.hormonesolutions.com.au Lance Chambers

    I feel that the issue is that laws haven’t yet come to terms with the internet. The law in question that was used in Italy is, I’ll bet, based upon laws pertaining to print media where the editor IS responsible for everything that is printed.

    The application of these types of outmoded laws is the issue. As has been highlighted, ‘How is it possible to monitor the volume of material uploaded?” The truth of the matter is that it simply is impossible.

    However, Judges do not make laws all they can do is interpret and apply. If the law makes it illegal to publish defamatory information then it is up to the judge to find persons guilty or not guilty based upon the evidence and the laws in question.

    It appears that governments have been hesitant to make the necessary changes to the law to accommodate the internet and all it requires and this I do understand. There is no point in making laws when within a day, week or month they may be out of date and redundant. The law requires stability to operate and the internet is anything but stable. I have a strong feeling that it will be many years before we see laws starting to be promulgated to account for the internet.

    • http://www.primal-media.co.uk Rob Brideson

      I have to agree with Lance’s observations here, it takes months for the legislators in any country to get out of the starting blocks, due to the petty bureaucracy that surrounds them. By the time legislation is passed, it will already be out of date because the social media and the internet in general will have moved on at a great rate of knots. The internet tends to remind us of the red tape and middle men on the make in real life. In some areas it is warranted but many other areas it really is not relevant.

      I do however feel that the subsequent conviction of the Google3 is in fact a bit harsh based on antiquated laws, but may well serve as a lesson regardless of the age of the law being used. I think what the social media companies have to take on board is that there are quite heavy censorship and discrimination laws outside of the USA beyond the usual libel and defamatory laws that need to be adhered to and if they wish to operate in those countries they need to regionalise, like many search engines, to keep within those laws, and quite rightly too.

      Most of these laws do not detract from the freedom of speech and/or information nor the subjects that we wish to talk about openly, they simply protect the vulnerable and some smart Alex’s who think they are above the law, but soon get found out and are made to pay the price (UK Parliament on expenses is a positive example of FOI). Most of these laws also bring about good common sense debate without having to resort to offending or discriminating certain sections of our communities or societies.

      I am not pro regulation of the internet but I am pro some of these massive companies that provide us with our daily internet diet looking to good common sense and actively removing the minority of contributors who are outwardly offensive and discriminating in their content. It is not about removing the user it is about removing the content and moderating future content to educate rather than penalise. After all a number of these companies actually retain user content and once posted, in some cases, it becomes the property of the channel providing the content to a mass audience.

      Simply put, if the likes of the big social media companies et al wish to show content within their channels, thus retaining that content for posterity on their server, then they do need to share some of the legal burden with the person(s) who produced it, and actively protect themselves against it.

      What’s a few more employees in each country to do this job? Nothing compared to the massive profits they make. They would be contributing more to the upturn in the global economy whilst ridding the screens of those countries who are more rigidly regulated of the most offensive material. Many users of the internet would not know what slander, discrimination or even offensive material is and perhaps it is the innocent that require protecting.

      I am an educated man and web development company owner and I struggle with it sometimes but that’s what lawyers are for. How many individuals consult a lawyer before committing their thoughts to publicly viewed textual or pictorial content? None, except for corporate blog and social network users. There is freedom of speech and there is the abuse of the right to the freedom of speech, the later of which should be protected against both by regional law and vendor self regulation.

  • http://www.laokay.com Adsense Publisher

    I think tho if it was up for a while and it wasn’t removed immediately then an apology should be posted. With certain things being pretty much public domain tho I think it’s up to the users to help flag the content when it’s inappropriate so it can be removed faster.

    • http://www.hormonesolutions.com.au Lance Chambers

      I agree with the idea that ALL social sites should have mechanisms for users to flag content.

      This could be a great tool for ‘cleaning the net’.

      Good comment. Thanks.

      I WON’T flag this one :-)

      • http://www.websitemarketing-tips.com/ Rob Brideson

        This combined with a little more self regulation regionally by the social network vendors would work well. It would not take long for the really offensive content to be flagged but would require a fast reaction from the vendor.

        We would also have to be wary that some content could be flagged for malicious reasons, therefore a board of some description would need to investigate and decide on the validity of the flagging if it is not obvious.

        Whilst investigation is ongoing the post would need to be suspended but easy to reinstate should it be deemed to be non offensive.

        Either way, this would require people to oversee the process.

        • http://www.sfpincchicago.com Shadow Fire Promotions, Inc.

          Flagging content never works because you are subject to the opinions of another, regardless of right, wrong, or otherwise. For example, perhaps we post about the benefits of giving up your heathen lifestyle and devoting yourself to Christ. Well, if you’re not a Christian, you take offence to that, and flag it.

          So, there was and is no real reason to flag it, as there is no hostile intent, just one opinion (and for the sake of argument, we’re going to say that it’s not a post of “you’re going to hell”, or “all other religions are blasphemous”, etc.), but because you personally CHOSE to be offended, you flagged a post that was not there to intimidate or harass any other.

          Let’s say we run a strip club and post ads looking for women to be strippers. That offends you, and you flag it. The post did not feature any nudity or indecent content, but you didn’t like it simply because of the fact that your own PERSONAL beliefs do not coincide with the poster, so you flag it.

          Those are just two reasons why flagging doesn’t work, and why USERS need to be responsible for content, not the place where the content is posted, else there be no such thing as free and open media. Your website showcasing a strip club? Nope, we don’t like it, that offends us, so you can’t host your site with us. Can’t post your men-seeking-men or women-seeking-women post because homosexuality is a sin and offends us, so we won’t let you post to our message board or post want ads.

          So, to flag content is wrong, and it should be transparent who is a poster of content on the web, or you don’t post. That way, sites on the web truly can be “just a forum” and not have to worry about being sued because you uploaded your home sex tape, or your “Best of my kicking the dog” video.

  • Guest

    Guys I somewhat feel that it is Google’s responsibility to have a control on content being posted on Google properties. If Google says that they can not control the huge amount of users then make it a private portal with limited members they can manage. You can’t just run after popularity and money all the time. I however condemn the court judgment as the executives had nothing to do with the video uploaded but at the same time there should be a system to monitor or control some fishy content. Like Google AdWords Ads, Google can put videos in Review System wherein they can take upto 24 or 48 hours to review and allow user to upload and run the video on internet.

    There has to be a moderation and control over the wild horse called WEB. If we say that it is user powered system then sooner or later people will have the freedom to post illegal and abusive content on internet which can affect an individuals life.

    Coincidentally, I read a story today morning about a teacher killing herself because her “Ex” had posted her nude pics online from her PC in gulf country. The lady thought that her reputation in society will be spoiled and she will be punished by Saudi police for uploading such content hence she decided to end her life. Now think how negative effect the “FREE”, “Un Controlable” Internet can affect someones life adversely.

    • http://www.wordfashionista.com Guest

      I agree a host/publisher should bear a given degree of responsibility for airing content and comments. To allow them shelter from legal liability is to encourage future harm production. Obviously, many viewers flagged this video and its content as illegal – yet, it appears no one responded or was assigned to attend to this aspect of viewer notice. If a company offers viewers an opportunity to flag inappropriate content, that same company has a responsibility to those who take the time to flag a given attention in the matter. Clearly, one quick look is all that an internal reviewer would have needed to recognize this clip as being “Illegal” and this situation could have been resolved quietly to everyone’s satisfaction.

  • http://floridasearch.net Florida

    These Google execs aren’t being held responsible for the actions of the ones who made the video in question. They got their own convictions. they are being held responsible for their own actions. IE allowing people to post videos of this sort of activity, a separate crime in that country.

    That whole BS they use about not taking down videos until someone reports it is just BS. It didn’t even work here in the U.S. where laws are grossly stacked in favor of large businesses.

    • Guest

      Can you give us an example of how to tell if a video that is uploaded has inappropriate content through software that is monitoring uploads?

    • Nell

      I actually think that users being able to upload illegal content is a good thing. It actually helps police catch and charge individuals who are commiting crimes and then stupid enough to post it online.
      Granted once the police come across it, it needs to be taken down.

      Think about this case in Italy, These bully’s are being held accountable to their actions because the video was public. Otherwise, nothing would have happened to these bullies. Nobody would have known, or likely done anything.

      Charging the execs………… they should be thanking them that they were able to catch and prosecute these individuals because of youtube!

  • http://zuitty.com James

    Now this is crazy and it even goes against the DMCA since there is no way anyone could know what does and what does not fall under the copyright law protection. Even a rocket scientist could not keep up with that.
    It looks more like the record labels what to just shut down the Internet in hopes of increasing their sales?
    And next will be radio and TV.

    Maybe we should get rid of cars, telephones and anything else that make our lives easier.

    Oh and don’t forget speech and the first amendment just about anything you utter could be copyrighted and may cost you….

  • http://all4lessmedia.ecrater.com/ All4lessmedoa

    Google, Amazon, Ebay, Yahoo etc…they should all be accountable. They create these things in such a way to claim plausible deniability. In order to play ball with Ebay, Google, etc you have to do it the way they want no matter if its really legal. My point is we deal with all of them and its time that they swallow little bit of the medicine they have been dealin’ out for so long. We have been selling great phones for a long time but we often times face problems with google base and groundless claims in which action is taken without merit. Ultimately, its always reversed. In the end these large companies end up a bit arrogant. I however, do applaud China on stepping up to the plate with regard to China

    • Sue G.

      Why is Google constantly being sued? Google search results allow invasion of privacy, cyber stalking, old dead links, and slanderous false postings that they will not remove even when politely notified a dozen times. This Google company is even being sued for the name of their first phone Nexus One – they took the name from a famous sci-fi movie. Im glad Yahoo and Bing joined together this year and they never allow filthy postings like Google. Google is so rich they think they are above the law. Just search”google being sued” for huge results and cases.

  • Guest

    This is clearly another case of a company or other entity or individual being held responsible for the actions of someone else. People should be held accountable for their own actions. The execs did not record or post the video. They are not the ones at fault for its existence. The people who did it are the ones responsible. The more we allow people to be blamed for something someone else did, the weaker we are. It is just wrong, pathetic and weak and it smudges the lines between right and wrong.

  • http://bizsearch.freeiz.com Bless

    i think google execs should develop a software to help them filter videos uploaded by users…so that they dont need to hire too
    many employees just to check those videos uploaded to their site. but they should not be convicted by other people’s mistakes…

    • http://tube2night.com James

      A software that would work correctly, would be a miracle in its self. Goolge and YouTube have millions of videos uploaded in a short period of time.

      People should be held responsible that make a video that is breaking the terms of use.
      When you sign up to a social site you must comply with the terms of use. If a member is violating the terms of use a IP block should be used.

  • http://www.livetrainingsession.com/training/css.html CSS Training Online

    Social media content creators are responsible in the first place of whatever information they put out there. The social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook or Twitter need to keep an eye on what users post and respond as quickly as possible whenever they are notified about some harmful information posted in their servers.
    In the case mentioned in this article I think Google as long as Google comply with the Italian authorities by providing the identity of the person who uploaded the video they should not be held responsible for any malfeasance.
    There must be more to the store than what this post has revealed otherwise they should be no case against those Google employees.

  • http://www.aarongarrity.com Aaron Garrity

    No, it’s impossible to monitor the actions of millions of submissions. Each person should be responsible for their content.

  • http://goorutools.com Webintel

    My question about this whole issue is whose privacy did they violate?

    The article states that they helped the authorities: “Google says it worked with Italian authorities to help ID the person responsible for uploading it, and the uploader and other participants from the video were sentenced to community service.”

    So has Google violated the privacy of the individuals that uploaded the video by helping the authorities?

    Or was it the ID of the person featured in the video that Google violated even though they had nothing to do with the video?

    So again, whose privacy did Google violate, and how are they to be held accountable for doing so?

  • zack

    Yes I think the service provider needs to show that they at least tried to prevent any illegal activities. So it would be safer if Google inspects the content before posting them in public views. If it was a private and secure posting such as in email…then it wouldn’t matter. The Internet isn’t like talking on a phone, so it should be treated differently. Computers are programmable tools that can be used for many evil things such as viruses, unlike dumb terminals or other locked in devices.

  • Guest

    I guess the bottom line on who should take responsibility and who should be punished would depend on motive. Why was the video uploaded? For shock value? To show that some people bully other people?

    Motive is the question to ask concerning any action an individual or group of individuals perform. And thus, judgment shall depend on that motive.

    For example: A man shoots a dog because the dog is attacting his young child. Compare this to: A man shoots a dog simply because he hates dogs.

    What should be the judgment in each case?

    YouTube and every other site that allows user created uploads can not always know the motive of why a user posts what he or she posts. I for one do not believe they should be held responsible.

  • David

    They should overturn this stupid ruling and allow common sense back into the case.
    The individuals who bullied this child and filmed it have been prosecuted and punished as indeed they should.
    Google removed the offending video so it appears the Italians have a broader agenda in deciding to prosecute Google also ?
    It would seem that operating any social networking site in Italy is risky. Providing other countries do not follow this idiotic policy then its not the end of social networking.
    However do not bank on it that they will not. Any excuse to give the internet a kick in the goolies maybe prove tempting to governments and politicians who dislike the freedom the internet provides
    to all of us to voice or share an opinion outside of their control.

  • Guest

    Just think you run a conventional business, not an internet business:
    Would you allow somebody to distribute a video to your employees or clients without having a look at it first? I guess not!
    Too many people take for granted they can do anything on the net.
    Now to Google: When Google can make a deal with the Chinese Covernement on monitoring what 1.2 billion Chinese People are placing on the net, then it’s sure possible for them to abide by Italien law and check what some 60 Million Italiens are placing on the net.
    When I read in the NY Times that the American Ambassador to Italy was “disappointed” about the ruling and that the Amerain Secretary of State finds that “free internet is a human right”, I can only say so much: “Cleanup your house first!”.
    At least I can walk on any street at night in my country without having to worry about being attacked or even killed. Free and SAVE circulation is a human right too!

  • http://henry-bar.net Henry Barnett

    It is not correct to condem anyone – Youtube, Google, Ford Motor Company, Barret Firearms Manufacturing Company, the US Government, etc. for allowing their product to be used for illegal purposes.

    A fundamental flaw in the Italian decision is condemning the manufacturer and in this sense Youtube is just that. If a Ford truck is used in a hold-up condemn Ford? If a gun is used in a murder condemn the manufacturer? If the USA legally sells arms to another country that then uses them illegally, condemn the US government? If somebody mails a bomb through the UK postal system, condemn the post office?

    I think not.

    The Terms of Service (TOS) of all such companies clearly states what use/content is permitted and what is not from Youtube and Twitter to the US government and the Ford Motor Company.
    Youtube acted correctly, removed the video and helped the Italian police. The judgement is highly flawed and even could be said to be ridiculous.

    The important question should include the word “knowingly” vis-a-vis the Youtube execs and if you invite people to use or buy your product and state that it cannot be used for illegal, immoral reasons etc. then that’s OK.

    As one comment ran “It is up to us to educate our children or citizens.” If they err then condemn them not the telephone company that made a telephone that takes videos that was used to film illegal porn or a Youtube user that posted some illegal content.

    Tell me I’m wrong and I’ll give you a thousand reasons why I am not.

  • http://www.sussex-opc.org/ Guest

    In my view this is as ludicrous as me being convicted if someone wrote illegal of defamatory remarks about someone else on the outside wall of my house. The tool is there to be used – the police and authorities should be working to apprehend the perpetrators of the crime not the owner of the tool.

  • Guest

    I think that there is definitely a case to say that social media sites should take some responsibility for the things posted by users.

    I was recently the victim of copyright theft from my website www.photographersinnottingham.co.uk. The stolen images were displayed on Facebook. I reported them and had Facebook remove them. The thief put them back up and blocked me from viewing their page to make it more difficult for me to report them again. The images are watermarked and clearly stolen. Facebook are providing a platform for work to be displayed and are making money through advertising as a result. I believe that they should be the ones who police it to ensure that they are not, in effect, receiving stolen goods. I could take legal action against the thief, however they have no money to sue for. I believe that it would be more sensible to be able to sue the company which displays the stolen work, and makes it available for others to steal, if they do not make reasonable efforts to prevent this.

  • http://blogs.technotate.com TechNotate

    By Google’s own admittance this Turin Torment video was removed only after receiving demands from Italian police. Do those countless viewers complaining about the illegal nature of the clip- have no merit in Google’s eyes? Or, is it that the company believed themselves safe from prosecution that they did not acknowledge the numerous viewer complaints and demands for removal?
    “European Union law dictates that hosting providers have a safe harbor from liability as long as they remove illegal content once they are notified of its existence.”

  • http://www.zipinpolitics.com VeeGe

    How can anyone even think this? Site owners responsible for the ‘missteps’ of those who visit ? Makes no sense to me. http://www.youtube.com P1915

  • Shay

    Easy fixed – Italy should just firewall all blogs, social media, search engines AND THE INTERNET. Their government know damn well how websites operate – perhaps they are responsible!?

  • Matt

    No Google, No Gmail, my Youtube, No Adwords for Italy.

    How long would they allow the judge’s cracked decision to stand? Weeks. I’ll bet.

  • GrowABrain

    Google should have never worked to identify anyone in that video. That’s the law in Italy they broke. The privacy of the people in the video was violated as soon as there was an investigation.
    That’s all. The video was not in question with the Italian law. Google should merely delete the videos in question and only help the authorities when ordered by a court of law (a recognized court of law) – period.
    Google’s lawyers should have warned that by helping authorities in any country could ultimately put them at legal risk.
    This is similar to the 5th amendment issues in the US – innocent people start babbling to police w/o the presence of a lawyer and can look guilty or even allow themselves to be charged for something else.

    The video was never the issue, the investigation was (albeit their authorities should have never asked Google to offer any assistance in trying to identify the people on the videos). Google should have flat out refused without some sort of court order.

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