Senator Asks YouTube To Remove Terrorist Clips

    May 19, 2008

In an open letter sent earlier today to Eric Schmidt, Senator Joe Lieberman brought up the issue of terrorist-produced videos appearing on YouTube.  On the YouTube Blog, corporate representatives have now responded.

Both sides kept their cool and remained quite polite.  There hasn’t been even a hint of impending action against Google; the senator used words like "unwittingly" to describe its part in the process.  Just the same, Lieberman wrote, "Islamist terrorist organizations use YouTube to disseminate their propaganda, enlist followers, and provide weapons training – activities that are all essential to terrorist activity."

Joe Lieberman
 Joe Lieberman

He later concluded, "I ask you, therefore, to immediately remove content produced by Islamist terrorist organizations from YouTube."

Google seems to have met Lieberman halfway.  The company replied, "In response to his concerns, we examined and ended up removing a number of videos from the site, primarily because they depicted gratuitous violence, advocated violence, or used hate speech."

However, "While we respect and understand his views, YouTube encourages free speech and defends everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view."

It’s unclear where the matter will go from here.  The senator asked for a response and got one, but insofar as terrorism is concerned, Google’s stance may not be strong.  Lieberman has the power to either make this a major issue or let it fade away, and at the least, YouTube’s employees will likely see a surge in the number of flagged videos.