Google lets antisemitic videos stay on YouTube
Google lets antisemitic videos stay on YouTube
Advertisers revolt after web giant’s failure
Mark Bridge, Technology Correspondent | Alexi Mostrous, Head of Investigations
March 18 2017, 12:01am,
Google is failing to remove virulent antisemitic content from its YouTube video platform in an apparent breach of its own guidelines and the law.
Havas, one of the world’s biggest advertising agencies, pulled hundreds of UK clients out of Google’s advertising network yesterday after revelations in The Times that taxpayers and big brands were unwittingly funding extremists through adverts. Dozens of other brands have also withdrawn their business.
The full scale of Google’s failure to tackle hate speech can be revealed today, with fresh analysis showing that more than 200 antisemitic videos are hosted on YouTube.
In some cases, the offensive videos were uploaded years ago and have attracted hundreds of thousands of views. Some even hosted advertising, suggesting antisemites may be profiting from well-known brands.
The internet giant is facing growing condemnation from MPs and campaigners, with calls for websites to face punitive fines for failing to remove extremist material.
Adverts for dozens of brands appeared during YouTube videos posted by rape apologists and hate-preachers banned in the UK. Typically, those who post videos receive up to $7.60 per 1,000 views that an advert attracts. Some of the most popular extremist clips on YouTube have nearly one million hits.
Last night the BBC, McDonald’s and Audi joined advertisers including the Cabinet Office, Transport for London, L’Oréal, Sainsbury’s and Channel 4 in suspending advertising with YouTube.
Havas, which spends about £35 million with Google each year in Britain and represents O2, Royal Mail and Domino’s, removed all Google advertising, saying it had a duty to protect its clients’ reputations.
A snapshot analysis by The Times found more than 200 antisemitic videos on YouTube, but it appeared there are many more.
The videos promote stereotypes, including the idea that Jews control banks, media and politicians, start wars for profit and keep “white people” in slavery. Many glorify the Nazis, deny the Holocaust or perpetuate the blood libel that Jews kill Christian children. Some are fronted by well-known extremists such as David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, while others are narrated by faceless racists.
This newspaper anonymously reported six antisemitic videos to YouTube, but the site failed to remove them within the 24-hour period mandated by EU regulations. It took them down only four after it was contacted subsequently by our reporter.
Google believes in the right for people to express views that we and many others find abhorrent
One of the removed videos claimed the Jews killed gentile children every year at Passover and sold their bodies to McDonald’s for burger meat. It had gained almost a million views since it was posted on the site four years ago and potentially had made the individual who posted it more than £5,600 in advertising revenue.
It is understood that Google was continuing last night to “review” the two remaining videos, which included one featuring antisemitic claims by Mr Duke and a second titled “Adolf Hitler vs The Jew World Order”.
A spokeswoman said: “Google believes in the right for people to express views that we and many others find abhorrent, but we do not tolerate hate speech. We have clear policies against inciting violence or hatred and we remove content that breaks our rules or is illegal when we’re made aware of it.”
Google has indicated that it relies on the public to report offensive YouTube content because it cannot police the site proactively, given the quantity of footage it hosts. Critics said that its “notification and takedown” system was unfit for purpose and that the company was shirking its responsibilities.
Last year, Google and other big technology companies signed up to a European Commission code of conduct, promising to review most items flagged as hate speech within 24 hours of notification and to remove offending content. It claims that it does review 98 per cent of flagged videos within 24 hours, despite its failure to do so in all six cases raised by this newspaper.
Yvette Cooper, chairwoman of the Commons home affairs select committee, said: “Google should be able to use one of its much feted search engines to find this material and take it down.”
Earlier this week Google refused to take down an antisemitic video reported to YouTube by the committee, saying that it was in favour of “free speech and access to information”. An executive told MPs that the video titled “Jews admit organising white genocide” did not breach guidelines and generally it would only take down videos that promoted or condoned violence.
YouTube’s hate-speech policy states: “We don’t permit hate speech . [It is not] acceptable to post malicious, hateful comments about a group of people solely based on their race.”
Lawyers said that, along with the individuals who post the content, Google potentially could be liable for prosecution for hate speech. James Parry, of Parry Welch Lacey solicitors, said: “If the views in [the videos] were expressed by a person in public, there would be no doubt that they would be regarded as a hate crime on the grounds that they were remarks intended to cause or promote religious or racial hatred.”
Google adverts withdrawn
• Havas advertising agency
• The Cabinet Office
• Transport for London
• The Financial Conduct Authority
• Channel 4
• The Guardian