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Vocabulary > Technology > Internet > Advocacy videos, Social media activism

 

 

 

 

Collateral Murder

Overview

5th April 2010 10:44 EST

 

WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video

depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people

in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff.

 

Reuters has been trying to obtain the video

through the Freedom of Information Act,

without success since the time of the attack.

 

The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site,

clearly shows the unprovoked slaying

of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers.

 

Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU3G0&feature=player_embedded

 

Related
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/06/world/middleeast/06baghdad.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/05/wikileaks-us-army-iraq-attack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kony        Jason Russell        2012

 

 

 

 

Kony 2012

YouTube > Added by invisiblechildreninc

March 5, 2012
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


STOP KONY 2012 - Overview and Invisible Children criticism        stillsoundlyawake        7 March 2012

 

 

 

 

STOP KONY 2012 - Overview and Invisible Children criticism        stillsoundlyawake        7 March 2012

 

YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgGgLxcXPHI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kony 2012 creators talk criticism        CNN        13 March 2012

 

 

 

 

Kony 2012' creators talk criticism        CNN        13 March 2012

 

Invisible Children filmmaker Jason Russell

and CEO Ben Keesey address criticism about "Kony 2012."

 

YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEVKNVTnYRA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph Kony 2012: What happened to Invisible Children? - Truthloader        5 March 2013

 

 

 

Joseph Kony 2012: What happened to Invisible Children?        Truthloader        5 March 2013

 

One year ago today Kony 2012

was launched to hunt down Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony

but it all went wrong with questions over how the money was spent

and Jason Russell's public mental breakdown.

 

On the first anniversary of Kony 2012,

Truthloader looks at how Invisible Children virtually disappeared.

 

YouTube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okmswBs4rdg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

advocacy video > USA > Kony 2012        UK / USA

http://www.theguardian.com/world/kony-2012

https://www.theguardian.com/world/joseph-kony

http://www.nytimes.com/topic/person/joseph-kony

 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/gallery/2017/may/01/
uncatchable-fruitless-quest-joseph-kony-in-pictures

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/04/21/
525073251/u-s-uganda-call-off-search-for-infamous-warlord-joseph-kony

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/06/17/
482370555/how-a-child-soldier-reclaimed-her-former-self

 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/22/
joseph-kony-lra-book-evelyn-amony-memoir-extract

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/dec/17/
working-myself-out-of-a-job-lessons-from-leading-invisible-children

 

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/12/15/
370824018/organization-behind-kony-2012-set-to-close-its-doors-in-2015

http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2014/03/25/
294315138/joseph-kony-is-back-in-the-news-do-teenagers-still-care

 

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/16/
photography-in-service-to-humanity/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNcE8PCLDtA - 25 July 2013

http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2013/jul/23/
joseph-kony-child-soldier-boyhood-village

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/mar/15/
joseph-kony-graphic-novel-violent

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okmswBs4rdg - 5 March 2013

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/03/
jason-russell-kony-2012-interview

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/30/
world/africa/kony-tracked-by-us-forces-in-central-africa.html

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/apr/21/
kony-2012-campaign-uganda-warlord

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/reality-check-with-polly-curtis/2012/apr/20/
kony-2012-what-happens-next

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/apr/20/
kony-2012-cover-night-campaign

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/reality-check-with-polly-curtis/2012/apr/20/
kony-2012-what-happens-next

http://www.npr.org/2012/04/19/
150964208/young-people-turn-from-kony-to-spooning-record

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/blog/2012/apr/05/
kony-2012-sequel-video-live 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/02/
kony-2012-campaigners-sequel-video

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/16/us/
backlash-aside-charities-see-lessons-in-a-web-video.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/16/us/
backlash-aside-charities-see-lessons-in-a-web-video.html

http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/
activism-or-slactivism-the-kony-2012-campaign-as-a-teachable-moment/

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/12/
business/media/kony-2012-video-illustrates-the-power-of-simplicity.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iq5xpUrmyxg - BBC - 9 March 2012

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/09/
world/africa/online-joseph-kony-and-a-ugandan-conflict-soar-to-topic-no-1.html

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/03/09/
kony-2012-and-the-potential-of-social-media-activism/a-flawed-call-to-action

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/09/
how-the-kony-video-went-viral/

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/03/09/
kony-2012-and-the-potential-of-social-media-activism

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/03/09/
kony-2012-and-the-potential-of-social-media-activism/kony-2012-is-not-a-revolution

http://www.npr.org/2012/03/09/
148305533/how-teenagers-learned-to-hate-joseph-kony

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/reality-check-with-polly-curtis/2012/mar/08/
kony-2012-what-s-the-story

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2012/03/08/
148235430/while-controversial-kony-2012-has-put-focus-on-atrocities

http://www.npr.org/2012/03/08/
148235383/fact-checking-the-kony-2012-viral-video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9AntesKLSE - ABC - 8 March 2012

 

http://www.nytimes.com/video/world/africa/
1247467554547/on-the-hunt-for-joseph-kony.html - April 10, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/video/continuous/
1247467572968/timescast-april-9-2010.html

 

 

 

 

The Videos That Are Putting Race and Policing Into Sharp Relief

By DAMIEN CAVE and ROCHELLE OLIVER NYT        UPDATED JULY 7, 2016        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/30/us/
police-videos-race.html

 

 

 

 

Facebook Live > broadcast / livestream        USA

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/07/07/
485132281/live-video-after-police-shooting-brings-new-immediacy-to-bearing-witness

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/07/07/
485066807/police-stop-ends-in-black-mans-death-aftermath-is-livestreamed-online-video

http://www.nytimes.com/video/us/
100000004517374/deadly-police-shooting-in-minnesota.html - July 7, 2016

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/18/us/
man-inadvertently-broadcasts-his-own-killing-on-facebook-live.html

 

 

 

 

viral video        USA

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/04/21/
525073251/u-s-uganda-call-off-search-for-infamous-warlord-joseph-kony

 

http://www.npr.org/2012/03/08/
148235383/fact-checking-the-kony-2012-viral-video

 

 

 

 

go viral        USA

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/09/
how-the-kony-video-went-viral/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

activism vs slacktivism        USA

http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/
activism-or-slactivism-the-kony-2012-campaign-as-a-teachable-moment/

 

 

 

 

slacktivism        USA

http://www.npr.org/2014/11/08/
362367236/hashtag-activism-2-0-sites-aim-to-turn-attention-into-change

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104302141 - May 19, 2009

 

 

 

 

slacktivist        USA

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=94509892 - Dec. 11, 2008

 

 

 

 

hashtag activism        USA

http://www.npr.org/2014/11/08/
362367236/hashtag-activism-2-0-sites-aim-to-turn-attention-into-change

 

 

 

 

awareness        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/03/09/
kony-2012-and-the-potential-of-social-media-activism/
kony-2012-provides-greater-awareness-and-thats-something

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/03/09/
kony-2012-and-the-potential-of-social-media-activism/awareness-can-translate-into-action

 

 

 

 

action        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/03/09/
kony-2012-and-the-potential-of-social-media-activism/awareness-can-translate-into-action

 

 

 

 

results        USA

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/03/09/
kony-2012-and-the-potential-of-social-media-activism/translating-awareness-into-results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related > New York Times / Guardian stories

 

 

Kony 2012 sequel video – does it answer the questions?        UK        April 5, 2012

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/blog/2012/apr/05/
kony-2012-sequel-video-live

 

 

 

 

Kony 2012 director diagnosed with psychosis, says wife        UK        March 21, 2012

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/21/
kony-2012-director-diagnosed-psychosis

 

 

 

 

Kony 2012:

campaigner's meltdown brought on by stress says wife        UK        March 17, 2012

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/17/
kony-2012-meltdown-stress-wife

 

 

 

 

Backlash Aside, Charities See Lessons in a Web Video        USA        March 16, 2012

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/16/us/
backlash-aside-charities-see-lessons-in-a-web-video.html

 

 

 

 

Lessons Learned From #Kony2012        USA        March 15, 2012

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/15/
lessons-learned-from-kony2012/

 

 

 

 

Viral Video, Vicious Warlord        USA        March 14, 2012

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/15/
opinion/kristof-viral-video-vicious-warlord.html

 

 

 

 

A Video Campaign and the Power of Simplicity        USA                March 15, 2012

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/12/
business/media/kony-2012-video-illustrates-the-power-of-simplicity.html

 

 

 

 

How the Kony Video Went Viral        USA        March 9, 2012

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/09/
how-the-kony-video-went-viral/

 

 

 

 

African Critics of Kony Campaign See

a ‘White Man’s Burden’ for the Facebook Generation        USA        March 9, 2012

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/09/
african-critics-of-kony-campaign-hear-echoes-of-the-white-mans-burden/

 

 

 

 

Child abductee featured in Kony 2012

defends film's maker against criticism        UK        March 8, 2012

 

Ugandan Jacob Acaye says world needs to know

about war waged by Joseph Kony that

is still going on elsewhere in Africa

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/08/
jacob-acaye-child-kony-2012

 

 

 

 

Q&A: Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army        UK        March 8, 2012

 

Former choirboy from Uganda leads a militia

with an unparalleled reputation for brutality

who pillage, rape and mutilate

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/08/
joseph-kony-lords-resistance-army       

 

 

 

 

New York Times > Topics > Joseph Kony News

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/k
/joseph_kony/index.html

 

 

Guardian > Kony 2012

http://www.theguardian.com/world/kony-2012 

 

 

Guardian > Joseph Kony

http://www.theguardian.com/world/joseph-kony 

 

 

 

 

Guest post: Joseph Kony is not in Uganda

(and other complicated things)        March 7, 2012

http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/03/07/
guest_post_joseph_kony_is_not_in_uganda_and_other_complicated_things

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Satanic Video

 

September 23, 2012

The New York Times

By BILL KELLER

 

THE alchemy of modern media works with amazing speed. Start with a cheesy anti-Muslim video that resembles a bad trailer for a Sacha Baron Cohen comedy. It becomes YouTube fuel for protest across the Islamic world and a pretext for killing American diplomats. That angry spasm begets an inflammatory Newsweek cover, “MUSLIM RAGE,” which in turn inspires a Twitter hashtag that reduces the whole episode to a running joke:

“There’s no prayer room in this nightclub. #MuslimRage.”

“You lose your nephew at the airport but you can’t yell his name because it’s JIHAD. #MuslimRage.”

From provocation to trauma to lampoon in a few short news cycles. It’s over in a week, forgotten in two. Now back to Snooki and Honey Boo Boo.

Except, of course, it’s far from over. It moves temporarily off-screen, and then it is back: the Pakistani retailer accused last week of “blasphemy” because he refused to close his shops during a protest against the video; France locking down diplomatic outposts in about 20 countries because a Paris satirical newspaper has published new caricatures of the prophet.

It’s not really over for Salman Rushdie, whose new memoir recounts a decade under a clerical death sentence for the publication of his novel “The Satanic Verses.” That fatwa, if not precisely the starting point in our modern confrontation with Islamic extremism, was a major landmark. The fatwa was dropped in 1998 and Rushdie is out of hiding, but he is still careful. His book tour for “Joseph Anton” (entitled for the pseudonym he used in his clandestine life) won’t be taking him to Islamabad or Cairo.

Rushdie grew up in a secular Muslim family, the son of an Islam scholar. His relationship to Islam was academic, then literary, before it became excruciatingly personal. His memoir is not a handbook on how America should deal with the Muslim world. But he brings to that subject a certain moral authority and the wisdom of an unusually motivated thinker. I invited him to help me draw some lessons from the stormy Arab Summer.

The first and most important thing Rushdie will tell you is, it’s not about religion. Not then, not now.

When the founding zealot of revolutionary Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued his Rushdie death warrant in 1989, the imam was not defending the faith; he was trying to regenerate enthusiasm for his regime, sapped by eight years of unsuccessful war with Iraq. Likewise, Muslim clerics in London saw the fatwa against a British Indian novelist as an opportunity to arouse British Muslims, who until that point were largely unstirred by sectarian politics. “This case was a way for the mosque to assert a kind of primacy over the community,” the novelist said the other day. “I think something similar is going on now.”

It’s pretty clear that the protests against that inane video were not spontaneous. Antisecular and anti-American zealots, beginning with a Cairo TV personality whose station is financed by Saudi fundamentalists, seized on the video as a way to mobilize pressure on the start-up governments in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. The new governments condemned the violence and called in police to protect American diplomatic outposts, but not before a good bit of nervous wobbling.

(One of the principal goals of the extremists, I was reminded by experts at Human Rights First, who follow the region vigilantly, is to pressure these transitional governments to enact and enforce strict laws against blasphemy. These laws can then be used to purge secularists and moderates.)

Like the fanatics in the Middle East and North Africa, our homegrown hatemongers have an interest in making this out to be a great clash of faiths. The Islamophobes — the fringe demagogues behind the Koran-burning parties and that tawdry video, the more numerous (mainly right-wing Republican) defenders against the imaginary encroachment of Islamic law on our domestic freedom — are easily debunked. But this is the closest thing we have to a socially acceptable form of bigotry. And their rants feed the anti-American opportunists.

Rushdie acknowledges that there are characteristics of Islamic culture that make it tinder for the inciters: an emphasis on honor and shame, and in recent decades a paranoiac sense of the world conspiring against them. We can argue who is more culpable — the hostile West, the sponsors, the appeasers, the fanatics themselves — but Islam has been particularly susceptible to the rise of identity politics, Rushdie says. “You define yourself by what offends you. You define yourself by what outrages you.”

But blaming Islamic culture dismisses the Muslim majorities who are not enraged, let alone violent, and it leads to a kind of surrender: Oh, it’s just the Muslims, nothing to be done. I detect a whiff of this cultural fatalism in Mitt Romney’s patronizing remarks about the superiority of Israeli culture and the backwardness of Palestinian culture. That would explain his assertion, on that other notorious video, that an accommodation with the Palestinians is “almost unthinkable.” That’s a strangely defeatist line of thought for a man who professes to be an optimist and a problem-solver.

Romney and Rushdie are a little more in tune when it comes to mollifying the tender feelings of irate Muslims.

In his new book, Rushdie recounts being urged by the British authorities who were protecting him to “lower the temperature” by issuing a statement that could be taken for an apology. He does so. It fills him almost immediately with regret, and the attacks on him are unabated. He “had taken the weak position and was therefore treated as a weakling,” he writes.

Of the current confrontation, he says, “I think it’s very important that we hold our ground. It’s very important to say, ‘We live like this.’ ” Rushdie made his post-fatwa life in America in part because he reveres the freedoms, including the freedom, not so protected in other Western democracies, to say hateful, racist, blasphemous things.

“Terrible ideas, reprehensible ideas, do not disappear if you ban them,” he told me. “They go underground. They acquire a kind of glamour of taboo. In the harsh light of day, they are out there and, like vampires, they die in the sunlight.”

And so he would have liked a more robust White House defense of the rights that made the noxious video possible.

“It’s not for the American government to regret what American citizens do. They should just say, ‘This is not our affair and the [violent] response is completely inappropriate.’ ”

I would cut the diplomats a little more slack when they are trying to defuse an explosive situation. But I agree that the administration pushed up against the line that separates prudence from weakness. And the White House request that Google consider taking down the anti-Muslim video, however gentle the nudge, was a mistake.

By far the bigger mistake, though, would be to write off the aftermath of the Arab Spring as a lost cause.

It is fairly astounding to hear conservatives who were once eager to invade Iraq — ostensibly to plant freedom in the region — now giving up so quickly on fledgling democracies that might actually be won over without 10 bloody years of occupation. Or lamenting our abandonment of that great stabilizing autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Or insisting that we bully and blackmail the new governments to conform to our expectations.

These transition governments present an opportunity. Fortifying the democratic elements in the post-Arab Spring nation-building, without discrediting them as American stooges, is a delicate business. The best argument we have is not our aid money, though that plays a part. It is the choice between two futures, between building or failing to build a rule of law, an infrastructure of rights, and an atmosphere of tolerance. One future looks something like Turkey, prospering, essentially secular and influential. The other future looks a lot like Pakistan, a land of fear and woe.

We can’t shape the Islamic world to our specifications. But if we throw up our hands, if we pull back, we now have a more vivid picture of what will fill the void.

The Satanic Video,
NYT,
23.9.2012,
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/24/
opinion/keller-the-satanic-video.html

 

 

 

 

 

Free Speech in the Age of YouTube

 

September 22, 2012

The New York Times

By SOMINI SENGUPTA

 

San Francisco

COMPANIES are usually accountable to no one but their shareholders.

Internet companies are a different breed. Because they traffic in speech — rather than, say, corn syrup or warplanes — they make decisions every day about what kind of expression is allowed where. And occasionally they come under pressure to explain how they decide, on whose laws and values they rely, and how they distinguish between toxic speech that must be taken down and that which can remain.

The storm over an incendiary anti-Islamic video posted on YouTube has stirred fresh debate on these issues. Google, which owns YouTube, restricted access to the video in Egypt and Libya, after the killing of a United States ambassador and three other Americans. Then, it pulled the plug on the video in five other countries, where the content violated local laws.

Some countries blocked YouTube altogether, though that didn’t stop the bloodshed: in Pakistan, where elections are to be scheduled soon, riots on Friday left a death toll of 19.

The company pointed to its internal edicts to explain why it rebuffed calls to take down the video altogether. It did not meet its definition of hate speech, YouTube said, and so it allowed the video to stay up on the Web. It didn’t say very much more.

That explanation revealed not only the challenges that confront companies like Google but also how opaque they can be in explaining their verdicts on what can be said on their platforms. Google, Facebook and Twitter receive hundreds of thousands of complaints about content every week.

“We are just awakening to the need for some scrutiny or oversight or public attention to the decisions of the most powerful private speech controllers,” said Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor who briefly advised the Obama administration on consumer protection regulations online.

Google was right, Mr. Wu believes, to selectively restrict access to the crude anti-Islam video in light of the extraordinary violence that broke out. But he said the public deserved to know more about how private firms made those decisions in the first place, every day, all over the world. After all, he added, they are setting case law, just as courts do in sovereign countries.

Mr. Wu offered some unsolicited advice: Why not set up an oversight board of regional experts or serious YouTube users from around the world to make the especially tough decisions?

Google has not responded to his proposal, which he outlined in a blog post for The New Republic.

Certainly, the scale and nature of YouTube makes this a daunting task. Any analysis requires combing through over a billion videos and overlaying that against the laws and mores of different countries. It’s unclear whether expert panels would allow for unpopular minority opinion anyway. The company said in a statement on Friday that, like newspapers, it, too, made “nuanced” judgments about content: “It’s why user-generated content sites typically have clear community guidelines and remove videos or posts that break them.”

Privately, companies have been wrestling with these issues for some time.

The Global Network Initiative, a conclave of executives, academics and advocates, has issued voluntary guidelines on how to respond to government requests to filter content.

And the Anti-Defamation League has convened executives, government officials and advocates to discuss how to define hate speech and what to do about it.

Hate speech is a pliable notion, and there will be arguments about whether it covers speech that is likely to lead to violence (think Rwanda) or demeans a group (think Holocaust denial), just as there will be calls for absolute free expression.

Behind closed doors, Internet companies routinely make tough decisions on content.

Apple and Google earlier this year yanked a mobile application produced by Hezbollah. In 2010, YouTube removed links to speeches by an American-born cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, in which he advocated terrorist violence; at the time, the company said it proscribed posts that could incite “violent acts.”

ON rare occasions, Google has taken steps to educate users about offensive content. For instance, the top results that come up when you search for the word “Jew” include a link to a virulently anti-Jewish site, followed by a promoted link from Google, boxed in pink. It links to a page that lays out Google’s rationale: the company says it does not censor search results, despite complaints.

Susan Benesch, who studies hate speech that incites violence, said it would be wise to have many more explanations like this, not least to promote debate. “They certainly don’t have to,” said Ms. Benesch, director of the Dangerous Speech Project at the World Policy Institute. “But we can encourage them to because of the enormous power they have.”

The companies point out that they obey the laws of every country in which they do business. And their employees and algorithms vet content that may violate their user guidelines, which are public.

YouTube prohibits hate speech, which it defines as that which “attacks or demeans a group” based on its race, religion and so on; Facebook’s hate speech ban likewise covers “content that attacks people” on the basis of identity. Google and Facebook prohibit hate speech; Twitter does not explicitly ban it. And anyway, legal scholars say, it is exceedingly difficult to devise a universal definition of hate speech.

Shibley Telhami, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, said he hoped the violence over the video would encourage a nuanced conversation about how to safeguard free expression with other values, like public safety. “It’s really about at what point does speech becomes action; that’s a boundary that becomes difficult to draw, and it’s a slippery slope,” Mr. Telhami said.

He cautioned that some countries, like Russia, which threatened to block YouTube altogether, would be thrilled to have any excuse to squelch speech. “Does Russia really care about this film?” Mr. Telhami asked.

International law does not protect speech that is designed to cause violence. Several people have been convicted in international courts for incitement to genocide in Rwanda.

One of the challenges of the digital age, as the YouTube case shows, is that speech articulated in one part of the world can spark mayhem in another. Can the companies that run those speech platforms predict what words and images might set off carnage elsewhere? Whoever builds that algorithm may end up saving lives.

 

Somini Sengupta

is a technology correspondent for The New York Times.

Free Speech in the Age of YouTube,
NYT,
22.9.2012,
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/23/
sunday-review/free-speech-in-the-age-of-youtube.html

 

 

 

 

 

As Violence Spreads in Arab World,

Google Blocks Access

to Inflammatory Video

 

September 13, 2012

The New York Times

By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER

 

SAN FRANCISCO — As violence spread in the Arab world over a video on YouTube ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad, Google, the owner of YouTube, blocked access to it in two of the countries in turmoil, Egypt and Libya, but did not remove the video from its Web site.

Google said it decided to block the video in response to violence that killed four American diplomatic personnel in Libya. The company said its decision was unusual, made because of the exceptional circumstances. Its policy is to remove content only if it is hate speech, violating its terms of service, or if it is responding to valid court orders or government requests. And it said it had determined that under its own guidelines, the video was not hate speech.

Millions of people across the Muslim world, though, viewed the video as one of the most inflammatory pieces of content to circulate on the Internet. From Afghanistan to Libya, the authorities have been scrambling to contain an outpouring of popular outrage over the video and calling on the United States to take measures against its producers.

Google’s action raises fundamental questions about the control that Internet companies have over online expression. Should the companies themselves decide what standards govern what is seen on the Internet? How consistently should these policies be applied?

“Google is the world’s gatekeeper for information so if Google wants to define the First Amendment to exclude this sort of material then there’s not a lot the rest of the world can do about it,” said Peter Spiro, a constitutional and international law professor at Temple University in Philadelphia. “It makes this episode an even more significant one if Google broadens the block.”

He added, though, that “provisionally,” he thought Google made the right call. “Anything that helps calm the situation, I think is for the better.”

Under YouTube’s terms of service, hate speech is speech against individuals, not against groups. Because the video mocks Islam but not Muslim people, it has been allowed to stay on the site in most of the world, the company said Thursday.

“This video — which is widely available on the Web — is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube,” it said. “However, given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt we have temporarily restricted access in both countries.”

Though the video is still visible in other Arab countries where violence has flared, YouTube is closely monitoring the situation, according to a person briefed on YouTube’s decision-making who was not authorized to speak publicly. The Afghan government has asked YouTube to remove the video, and some Google services were blocked there Thursday.

Google is walking a precarious line, said Kevin Bankston, director of the free expression project at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit in Washington that advocates for digital civil liberties.

On the one hand, he said, blocking the video “sends the message that if you violently object to speech you disagree with, you can get it censored.” At the same time, he said, “the decision to block in those two countries specifically is kind of hard to second guess, considering the severity of the violence in those two areas.”

“It seems they’re trying to balance the concern about censorship with the threat of actual violence in Egypt and Libya,” he added. “It’s a difficult calculation to make and highlights the difficult positions that content platforms are sometimes put in.”

All Web companies that allow people to post content online — Facebook and Twitter as well as Google — have grappled with issues involving content. The questions are complicated by the fact that the Internet has no geographical boundaries, so companies must navigate a morass of laws and cultural mores. Web companies receive dozens of requests a month to remove content. Google alone received more than 1,965 requests from government agencies last year to remove at least 20,311 pieces of content, it said.

These included a request from a Canadian government office to remove a video of a Canadian citizen urinating on his passport and flushing it down the toilet, and a request from a Pakistan government office to remove six videos satirizing Pakistani officials. In both cases, Google refused to remove the videos.

But it did block access in Turkey to videos that exposed private details about public officials because, in response to Turkish government and court requests, it determined that they violated local laws.

Similarly, in India it blocked local access to some videos of protests and those that used offensive language against religious leaders because it determined that they violated local laws prohibiting speech that could incite enmity between communities.

Requests for content removal from United States governments and courts doubled over the course of last year to 279 requests to remove 6,949 items, according to Google. Members of Congress have publicly requested that YouTube take down jihadist videos they say incite terrorism, and in some cases YouTube has agreed.

Google has continually fallen back on its guidelines to remove only content that breaks laws or its terms of service, at the request of users, governments or courts, which is why blocking the anti-Islam video was exceptional.

Some wonder what precedent this might set, especially for government authorities keen to stanch expression they think will inflame their populace.

“It depends on whether this is the beginning of a trend or an extremely exceptional response to an extremely exceptional situation,” said Rebecca MacKinnon, co-founder of Global Voices, a network of bloggers worldwide, and author of “Consent of the Networked,” a book that addresses free speech in the digital age.

 

Somini Sengupta contributed reporting.

As Violence Spreads in Arab World,
Google Blocks Access to Inflammatory Video,
NYT,
13.9.2012,
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/14/
technology/google-blocks-inflammatory-video-in-egypt-and-libya.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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