Should Google be censoring videos just because they are linked to violence?
Google says it blocked viewers in Egypt and Libya from seeing a controversial video clip on YouTube, after the video was allegedly linked to violence in both of those countries. But should Google be censoring content without even a request from a government or court?
Originally posted on Gigaom:
After violent attacks on Americans in both Egypt and Libya — including an attack in Libya on Tuesday that killed the American ambassador to that country — Google said on Wednesday that it has restricted access to a controversial YouTube video about the Prophet Muhammad that has been linked to the violence. According to a statement from the company, the video is still available on the YouTube website, but viewers from both Libya and Egypt are unable to see it. While this may be a goodwill gesture by the search giant aimed at helping to douse the flames of anti-American violence in the Middle East, it raises a number of questions about the company’s willingness to censor certain types of content even when it has not been asked to do so by a government or court. What other things might Google decide to block, and from whom?
The clip that is being blocked is a 14-minute section of a longer film called “The Innocence of Muslims,” which reportedly shows a fictional attack by Muslims on a Christian family, followed by an account of the origins of the Islamic religion that portrays the prophet Muhammad as a fraud and a womanizer. Other fictional and/or humorous accounts of the prophet’s life have also caused violence in the past, including a fatwa or death sentence issued against author Salman Rushdie in 1989 for his book “The Satanic Verses,” and a series of attacks and deaths linked to offensive cartoons about the prophet that ran in a Danish newspaper in 2005.