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YouTube finally removes jihad terror mastermind Anwar al-Awlaki’s videos

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YouTube left al-Awlaki’s videos up for years, only succumbing to public pressure and removing them now, after he has incited numerous jihad terror attacks. Yet my account was recently terminated because of a 2014 video entitled, “Al Qaeda and Islamic State flags in London’s tunnels.” The video shows jihadis displaying al Qaeda and Islamic state flags on one of London’s tunnels (see this). So telling the truth gets your account terminated at YouTube, but Anwar al-Awlaki’s calls for killing the kuffar have been just fine until too many people noticed and YouTube finally had to act.

You fought back and won and my YouTube account was reinstated. But I am still concerned about others who are suspended and don’t have a large social media presence to deploy. We must consider anti-trust laws or legislation to penalize social media giants who suppress our unalienable rights.

And we should make sure that YouTube knows that we remember how long it took them to get around to removing al-Awlaki’s videos.

“In ‘Watershed Moment,’ YouTube Blocks Extremist Cleric’s Message,” by Scott Shane, New York Times, November 12, 2017:

WASHINGTON — For eight years, the jihadist propaganda of Anwar al-Awlaki has helped shape a generation of American terrorists, including the Fort Hood gunman, the Boston Marathon bombers and the perpetrators of massacres in San Bernardino, Calif., and Orlando, Fla.

And YouTube, the world’s most popular video site, has allowed hundreds of hours of Mr. Awlaki’s talks to be within easy reach of anyone with a phone or computer.

Now, under growing pressure from governments and counterterrorism advocates, YouTube has drastically reduced its video archive of Mr. Awlaki, an American cleric who remains the leading English-language jihadist recruiter on the internet six years after he was killed by a United States drone strike. Using video fingerprinting technology, YouTube now flags his videos automatically and human reviewers block most of them before anyone sees them, company officials say.

A search for “Anwar al-Awlaki” on YouTube this fall found more than 70,000 videos, including his life’s work, from his early years as a mainstream American imam to his later years with Al Qaeda in Yemen.

Today the same search turns up just 18,600 videos, and the vast majority are news reports about his life and death, debates over the legality of his killing, refutations of his work by scholars or other material about him. A small number of clips of Mr. Awlaki speaking disappeared after The New York Times sent an inquiry about the change of policy last week.

“It’s a watershed moment on the question of whether we’re going to allow the unchecked proliferation of cyberjihad,” said Mark D. Wallace, the chief executive of the Counter Extremism Project, a research organization that has long called for Mr. Awlaki’s recordings to be removed from the web. “You just don’t want to make it easy for people to listen to a guy who wants to harm us.”

Mr. Wallace, a former diplomat, said the fact that much of Mr. Awlaki’s YouTube presence was mainstream lectures on Islamic history did not justify keeping it on the site. “It’s an insult to Islam to say the teaching of the religion can’t stand the loss of a preacher who was also the leading propagandist of jihad in English,” he said.

The policy shift at YouTube comes in the face of a growing chorus of criticism for internet companies, including Facebook, Twitter and Google, which owns YouTube. They had long argued that they were merely neutral platforms with no responsibility for what users posted.

But they were quick to remove copyrighted material, child pornography and beheading videos, for example, which posed an obvious threat to their business. They have slowly stepped up the removal of extremist content, spurred on after 2014 by the Islamic State’s use of Twitter to recruit fighters….

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