Roughly 300 hours’ worth of video material is uploaded to YouTube every single minute—leaving employees at the video-sharing website struggling to crack down on the publishing of extremist propaganda and hostage videos.
Speaking at a European Parliament meeting regarding a counter-terrorism action plan, Google Public Policy manager Verity Harding likened the challenge of pre-screening videos to “screening a phone call before it’s made.”
Currently YouTube allows users to highlight videos they deem offensive, at which point they are reviewed by staff. However, only one-third of problematic material is taken down–leading some to believe that the censorship is too lax.
The discussion comes one day after French President Francois Hollande called for Internet companies to be made accountable for the material they host online–with the likes of Google and Facebook considered “accomplices” to hate crimes if they host extremist messages.
At last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Hollande challenged Internet companies to identify and shut down extremist networks. “Don’t let a beast roam today when it could attack you tomorrow,” Hollande warned assembled leaders.
While cracking down on hate speech is certainly well-intentioned, today’s European Parliament meeting with Google demonstrates just how difficult it would be to enforce. Fortunately, it seems that Google’s position is being taken on board.
“We can contemplate legislation but I suspect it would be an awfully monumental exercise,” said Belgian senior European Union official Gilles de Kerchove.
At least at present, it seems that neither big Internet companies nor the European Union are willing to participate in the legal battle to enforce the removal of extreme online videos.