Film violence threatens online freedom

2012-09-15 20:30


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

San Francisco - Internet rights champions on Friday were fearful that free speech online may be among the victims of violence spurred by an anti-Islam video posted to YouTube.

A decision by YouTube parent Google to deny access to the video in Libya and Egypt even though the film's hateful message isn't aimed at a particular person was seen by some as a compassionate step onto a slippery slope.

"If they do it this once, they are going to do it in other situations," said Eva Galperin, freedom of expression co-ordinator at the Electronic Frontier Foundation - a non-profit pressure group.

"There is a good chance you will hear from Google that, just this once, extenuating circumstances made them turn their back on freedom of expression; but that is just the beginning of the slippery slope."

On Friday, Google added India to the list of countries where YouTube has blocked access to the anti-Islam film, which surfaced in the United States and has since sparked deadly protests in the Muslim world.

The Pakistani and Afghan governments have blocked the movie themselves.

'Thugs let off the hook'

Indonesia, where most of the 240 million population practice Islam, has also demanded that Google-owned YouTube remove the film from its website.

Protesters have targeted US embassies over the film, which portrays the Prophet Muhammad as an immoral sexual deviant.

Four people died in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Thursday as violence flared outside US embassies over the low-budget film.

The deaths followed the killing of a US diplomat and three colleagues in Syria on Tuesday, after a mob stormed the consulate in Benghazi.

Galperin branded Google's censorship of the video a "distressing" moves that "lets the thugs off the hook" by wrongly shifting responsibility to YouTube.

YouTube said that the video did not violate terms of service so would remain at the video-sharing website but that "given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt we have temporarily restricted access in both countries".


"Our hearts are with the families of the people murdered in yesterday's attack in Libya," the YouTube spokesperson said.

The White House said Friday it nudged YouTube to consider removing the film.

National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor said officials "reached out to YouTube to call the video to their attention and ask them to review whether it violates their terms of use".

Extracts of the film were still available on YouTube on Friday, though they were accompanied by a warning that the content was "potentially offensive or inappropriate", adding that viewer discretion was advised.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney described the spreading demonstrations and attacks on US diplomatic posts in the Arab world sparked by the video as "a fairly volatile situation".

Google has made a point of not mediating content, opting to provide tools for copyright owners, governments and others to submit "take-down" notices for online content that is pirated, illegal, or in violation of service terms.

"That is one of the reasons YouTube has become this tremendous platform for expression all over the world," Galperin said.

"If YouTube decides who can handle a video and who can't, that is extraordinarily paternalistic."

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    google  |  youtube  |  prophet protests  |  benghazi attack  |  internet  |  religion

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36 publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

De Allende's star burns bright
Boks were 'in a dark space'
Pacific island teams singled out for rough tactics?
Ireland favourites but France bullish
Traffic Alerts

It is always easier to notice the faults in others rather than face our own. Focusing too much on the perfect and ideal more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.