YouTube has a tremendous problem with hate speech, and something needs to be done about it now.
Recently, Britain’s Home Affairs Committee told YouTube to remove a vile video entitled “Jews Admit Organising White Genocide” (trigger warning: anti-semitism) by notorious Holocaust denier and ex-K.K.K. leader David Duke. The video has almost 100,000 views, and contains truly vile anti-semitism and racist remarks. Fourteen minutes long, it has such statements as:
The Zionists have already ethnically cleansed the Palestinians; why not do the same thing to Europeans and Americans as well? No group on earth fights harder for its interests than do the Jews. By dividing a society they can weaken it and control it.
It’s truly monstrous that racism on this level can be allowed to exist and even to thrive in a year as progressive as the current one. Duke’s deeply problematic opinions are being allowed to be expressed unfettered, and thousands of people are flocking to them. Yvette Cooper, who headed the Parliamentary enquiry, was exactly (I hope) right when she said most people would be “appalled by that video and think it goes against all standards of public decency in this country”. I don’t share her confidence, given June’s Brexit vote, but what is most shocking is vice-president for communications at Google Peter Barron’s response:
Our teams are making highly principled decisions and debating with a lot of intensity these issues. We’re not looking at these question lightly . . . It doesn’t meet the test for removing under our guidelines. We are in favour of free speech and access to information.
I’ll write that again: “It doesn’t meet the test for removing under our guidelines. We are in favour of free speech and access to information“. This is ridiculous. How can the free expression of these people possibly be more important than the security of mind, mental stability and feelings of safety of so many Jewish people? Peter Barron is white. He is Northern Irish, which means he knows more about oppression than most white people, but he clearly is not aware of how much damage this unrestricted liberty to post what you like on the Internet is causing, or will cause. The Alt-Right racists and sympathisers have come out of the cracks to defend “much liberty” like the selfish people they are. Does he really want to be allying himself with these people? I think not.
Peter should not be the object of our protest here. YouTube has done the best it can to blacken out hate speech and intolerance, but has to toe a fine line — these bigots make money, sadly, and it is a business — and mistakes have been made. We should ask him why are we defending freedoms like this, when ninety per cent of the time they are put to use by the most deplorable people? It is high time we set up a judge and jury, and started to properly police what is and is not acceptable to hear in a civilised, tolerant, free world where everyone feels safe. We do not allow assaults in the street; let’s start on assaults on the mind.