Film violence threatens online freedom

2012-09-15 20:30

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."

  • hermann.hanekom - 2012-09-15 20:57

    Surrendering to the demands of the Islam, are we?

      abra.kadaver.1 - 2012-09-16 10:44

      I watched the movie and if the Muslins are that upset because the movie depicts Mohamed and sheds a bit of light into the thinking of Muslim extremists then maybe they should be reevaluating their beliefs. The movie is the biggest pile of $h!t I've ever watched , but on the same note if they made a movie depicting Satan in such a bad light I would feel the need to go killing people and riot .

  • Stewart Croucamp - 2012-09-15 21:17

    All religions must be destroyed. They only cause pain and conflict in the world. How dare they try and destroy freedom of speech!

      enlightened.bowman - 2012-09-16 07:18

      That's religion in it's unadulterated form

  • jaco.duplessis2 - 2012-09-15 21:28

    Steward, some people don't deserve thr right of freedom of speech. What did these idiots think to achieve with film?

      enlightened.bowman - 2012-09-16 07:21

      Freedom of speech?

  • motleleng - 2012-09-15 21:59

    Religion!!! That is why I don't believe in any religion..if we RESPECT each other as human beings I don't see any problem with that and people with religious believes are the first one to judge... If you RESPECT me I will RESPECT you...

  • zaks2217 - 2012-09-15 22:10

    The brainless idiots who killed the ambassador have tainted the image of muslims. He was an innocent man doing his job and had absolutely nothing to do with the dumb film. I certainly hope that justice will be served. I'm am disappointed with the actions of some so called muslims. This is not how muslims are. This film was certainly bait for uprising and was done in the name of Christ which is utterly disgusting. We should all try to not be affected by these instigators and refrian from trash talking each others religions. We are South Africans.

      Aaron - 2012-09-15 22:49

      he was not an innocent man doing his job. he was an imperialist agent

      zaatheist - 2012-09-16 16:21

      Aaaron I take you are a member of the religion of peace. Are you? Nice one!

  • margo.vorster - 2012-09-15 22:20

    Opiate of the masses _ like any drug, religion eventually destroys the end user..

  • Aaron - 2012-09-15 22:47

    muslims don`t go around making fun of other religions, however christian and jews often denigrate other religions. Mulsim don`t go about maikg derogatory movies about Moses or jesus. Christians and jews should learn form Muslims.

      Vanessa Chalwe - 2012-09-15 23:08

      No one said the video was posted by Christians. Also how many times do you see news about how some muslims were killed by christians for practising their faith. I am not saying all muslims are like this but christians tend to be more tolerant than muslims

      alastair.schie - 2012-09-16 00:36

      I have had discussion with Muslims they have as much issues with Christians and Jews as Jews and Christians have with them.

      sarah.huntcunningham - 2012-09-16 01:32

      Well I don't condone prejudice of any kind. I live in a small town where on 9~11 one of our American soldiers in uniform was shopping at a gas station owned by Muslims. When he went to pay the owner told him "We don't like your....and pointed to his American flag on his uniform. The owner then proceeded to praise his God. Now it was an isolated incident. I do not blame a whole group for one bad apple but just an FYI it does happen. SOME people use their religions as a platform for hate, but not everyone does. My only question to the owner would be, "If that's the way you feel, then why are you living here?" I know bc he may hate Americans but loves their money. Just so we're clear I'm not one~sided. I'm not proud of alot of things our government has done but I am proud to be an American. We are not all hate mongers.

      enlightened.bowman - 2012-09-16 07:23

      You are right. Muslims don't g around making fun of other religions. They kill the worshippers.

      LanfearM - 2012-09-16 07:30

      No, Muslims don't make fun of other religions' worshippers. They bomb and kill them.

      zaatheist - 2012-09-16 16:22

      There will be those who say that mocking religion makes us look bad. They’ll insist that we should disagree respectfully. I say hogwash. If you treat outlandishly silly things as anything but outlandishly silly, you’re giving them the modicum of respect they crave, but that they are unwilling to earn by being rational. Religion has every other advantage, it doesn’t need charity it doesn’t deserve.

  • bishopbishop35 - 2012-09-15 23:24

    The say we are infidels is that not an insult ,we are not required to respect they profit is it by force

  • hannah.p.mostert - 2012-09-15 23:31

    Down with all religions

  • hhashali - 2012-09-16 00:53

    Why should more people suffer for one man's actions. Where has repect for other religions and human dignity for others including religion, dissappear to?

      zaatheist - 2012-09-16 16:23

      I understand some people feel sad when they see a figure they were taught as a child to revere, whether Prophet or Pope, being subjected to rational examination, or mockery, or criminal investigation. But everyone has ideas they hold precious. Only you, the religious, demand to be protected from debate or scrutiny that might discomfort you. The fact you believe an invisible supernatural being approves of, or even commands, your behaviour doesn't mean it deserves more respect, or sensitive handling. It means it deserves less. If you base your behaviour on such a preposterous fantasy, you should expect to be checked by criticism and mockery. You need it. - Johann Hari

  • Billy - 2012-09-16 03:18

    anyone who takes that video seriously needs a smack, its really dumb. you cant just kill someone if they insulted you. in any case, i thought these extremists are against western tech, why are they on youtube or bothered about whats on it, why are they bothered about what non-believers think? its just an excuse to cause chaos, stop them... lol one of the things the movie makes fun of, is extremists mobs killing people... clearly the truth hurts. so, does the extremist stand over a westerner smashing his head while shouting "i dont do this! how dare you say i do this!? respect me!" get real man, get shot tbh.

  • enlightened.bowman - 2012-09-16 07:17

    Are these savage barbarians alrady runing the world? I saw oe of them on the news recently crrying a board stating: behead all those who insult Islam. Do we have to accept such views in a democracy?

  • enlightened.bowman - 2012-09-16 07:20

    @ Toby.strong. I think you are mixing up two totally unrelated subjects here.

  • morgaenart.farto - 2012-09-16 09:24

    "Protesters have targeted US embassies over the film, which portrays the Prophet Muhammad as an immoral sexual deviant." mmm the truth hurts hey?

  • mnbain - 2012-09-16 09:25

    As a host they have the right to decide what they host. Anyone else can opt to host the video on their servers should they feels its important.

  • Dale Van Reenen - 2012-09-16 15:16

    These people are idiots in society. Morgaenart .Farto, are you actually dissing there god?!*

      zaatheist - 2012-09-16 16:26

      Why not diss the imaginary invisible magic man in the sky. It is stupid to believe he exists. Father Christmas and the Tooth fairy are also articles/figures of faith. Books have also been written about them. But you'd fall down laughing if an adult insisted they were real.

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