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YouTube Removes Videos by Islamic Extremist Anwar al-Awlaki

Anwar al-Awlaki has been a major voice for Islamic extremists, preaching war and attacks against the U.S and around the world. Targeted and killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2011, al-Awlaki created an archive of videos that encouraged violence.

In 2010, Google removed hundreds of his videos after the conviction of Roshonara Choudhry, a follower who earlier that year stabbed British MP Stephen Timms. al-Awlaki continued to post videos which has been cited as influences for terrorist attacks such as the Boston Marathon, San Bernardino, and Orlando, Florida.

According to a report in The New York Times, YouTube has removed “tens of thousands of videos of the cleric.” The videos, which also provide lectures of the history of Islam, have been removed as a result of pressures from governments and advocates.

The Times noted that 70,000 videos associated with al-Awlaki have been accessible earlier this fall. Only 18,600 videos remain which are correlated with news reports.

With social media sites facing pressure to limit videos that “advocate violence and other extremist activity,” YouTube established four steps to achieve the goal:

expanding its pool of flaggers, better use of automated tools, take a harder look at videos that skirt the line, and work with counter-radicalization groups.

When using the “hash function,” which flags videos, YouTube may prevent the same videos from being uploaded again. In addition, the video site has also begun to search for terrorist video content and in turn, establish playlists that debunk extremism.

Despite removing the videos of this “special case,” the Times reported that these videos may still be found on other sites – such Facebook, the Internet Archive, and DailyMotion.


[via The Verge]


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