YouTube Keeps Anti-Islamic ‘Innocence of Muslims’ Video Online
Blocks access in Egypt and Lybia, but maintains that “Innocence of Muslims” doesn’t violate the site’s policies
YouTube has censored “Innocence of Muslims”, a controversial video clip that has been blamed for anti-US protests in Egypt, Libya and Yemen, which led to the death of the US ambassador to Libya and other diplomats – but not removed the video from its site.
Google-owned YouTube made the video inaccessible in Egypt and Libya, but did not remove the video from the site or prevent access in other parts of the world, saying it doesn’t violate YouTube’s policies, reports Reuters.
A trailer for the film “Innocence of Muslims”, published on YouTube, has been blamed for violent protests in Egypt, Libya and Yemen over the past three days. On Tuesday, a gunman attack on the US embassy in Benghazi resulted in the deaths of the US ambassador and three other American diplomats.
The 14-minute clip from a low-budget amateur production depicts the prophet Muhammad as a dim-witted fraud who speaks to animals. The film was attributed by some to a California-based Israeli Jew named Sam Bacile, but this information has proved to be false. After the embassy attacks, the man calling himself “Bacile” has gone into hiding.
According to Yahoo! News, the American cast of Innocence of Muslims issued a joint statement on Wednesday, saying they were misled about the project and alleging that some of their dialogue was crudely dubbed during post-production.
Google has issued a statement to clarify its position. “We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions,” said the company. “This can be a challenge because what’s OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere.”
“This video – which is widely available on the Web – is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube. However, 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,” concluded the statement.
Analysts have suggested that Google is trying to remain neutral and maintain its integrity, after being accused of censorship in the past. “I can see them trying to keep an eye on the longer term and not wanting to go down the slippery slope of entertaining more and more demands to take things down. That can be corrosive in the longer haul,” Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain told Reuters.
The video has been repeatedly flagged for removal by users, but still remains on the site. YouTube guidelines prohibit “hate speech” and attacks on people based on religion, and it is evident that the company doesn’t think Innocence of Muslims falls in this category.
Some people have compared the film to Monty Python’s Life of Brian, a harmless form of entertainment that has been used by some political groups to cause carnage.
The violence caused by the film has been spreading across the region. This morning, protesters have stormed the grounds of the US embassy in Yemen. Meanwhile, Afghan authorities took initiative and shut down access to YouTube altogether, saying the blockade will last until the video is taken down.
Dead diplomat was respected gamer Vile Rat
At the same time, many Western activist groups have disapproved the selective blocking of video in response to violence. This year, both Twitter and Google’s Blogger service had started to censor content on a country-by-country basis, drawing widespread criticism from the Internet community.
On Wednesday, it emerged that Sean Smith, a diplomat killed in the Benghazi embassy attack was known online as “Vile Rat”, one of the most powerful players in CCP’s massive multiplayer game Eve Online. By Wednesday morning, dozens of space outposts in its sprawling science fiction universe had been renamed in memory of the legendary player.
Can you look after your personal data online? Take our quiz!