May 19th, 2008 | Published in Google Public Policy
(Cross-posted from the YouTube blog)
Last week, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) contacted us to voice his concerns about seeing videos from several Islamic terrorist organizations on YouTube. We appreciated our dialogue with Senator Lieberman and his staff and wanted to explain to the YouTube community how we responded to his concerns.
First, some background: hundreds of thousands of videos are uploaded to YouTube every day. Because it is not possible to pre-screen this much content, we have developed an innovative and reliable community policing system that involves our users in helping us enforce YouTube's standards. Millions of users report potential violations of our Community Guidelines by selecting the "Flag" link while watching videos.
Senator Lieberman's staff identified numerous videos that they believed violated YouTube's Community Guidelines. In response to his concerns, we examined and ended up removing a number of videos from the site, primarily because they depicted gratuitous violence, advocated violence, or used hate speech. Most of the videos, which did not contain violent or hate speech content, were not removed because they do not violate our Community Guidelines.
Senator Lieberman stated his belief, in a letter sent today, that all videos mentioning or featuring these groups should be removed from YouTube -- even legal nonviolent or non-hate speech videos. While we respect and understand his views, YouTube encourages free speech and defends everyone's right to express unpopular points of view. We believe that YouTube is a richer and more relevant platform for users precisely because it hosts a diverse range of views, and rather than stifle debate we allow our users to view all acceptable content and make up their own minds. Of course, users are always free to express their disagreement with a particular video on the site, by leaving comments or their own response video. That debate is healthy.
We appreciate Senator Lieberman alerting us to videos that violated our policies -- and encourage our users to continue to do the same through the flagging tool. And while we disagree with him about the details of our policies, we respect his views and thank him for giving us the chance to respond to his concerns.