The video-sharing website YouTube removed from its servers Sunday a video
channel operated by Israeli NGO Palestinian Media Watch for severe violations of
YouTube’s community guidelines.
The channel, which featured videos of
Palestinian incitement against Jews and Israelis, posted by the group in order
to expose Arab media undercurrents, was removed for repeatedly airing hate
Opinion: YouTube gets it wrong on online hate
PMW director Itamar Marcus said he had received an automatically
generated letter from YouTube informing him that the channel had been removed
following complaints by YouTube users. Surfing to the PMW channel or searching
YouTube for PMW videos generates a result that reads: “Palwatch has been
terminated due to multiple or severe violations of our Community
“YouTube has removed some of our videos in the past, but
closing down the site is a tremendous disservice,” said Marcus. “Some of the
videos are indeed horrific. The one that got us closed down, for example, showed
a farewell video made by a Hamas terrorist, in which he called on Palestinians
to drink the blood of Jews. But we’re not the ones who produced it, it was
broadcast first on Hamas TV in Gaza.
“After they are removed from YouTube
we can re-post individual videos through other video sharing websites, but
closing down the entire channel means that all the recorded views have been lost
and all the blogs and websites that linked to the videos no longer
Marcus said that he suspected that the complaints came from
Palestinian or Arab activists who didn’t like the fact that the hateful messages
were being exposed.
“These types of videos are usually only viewed in
Arab society, since they are aired on Arab-language channels. They want to hide
the things they only allow themselves to say amongst themselves in Arabic, but
we watch it, translate it and send it around the world to decision-makers and
the general public,” said Marcus.
Marcus said that he didn’t know whether
anybody at YouTube was aware of the context in which the offensive videos were
aired and that he hoped that once reasoned with they could return the channel,
even if it meant removing particular videos.
YouTube could not be reached
for a response, but the company’s website reads the following about the posting
of offensive material: “We have a policy of not commenting on individual video
removals. Videos may be removed from YouTube for a variety of reasons…. With 24
hours of video uploaded every minute to YouTube, we cannot pre-screen content
and operate at the scale at which we do. It would be like the telephone company
pre-screening every call before allowing it to be connected.
count on our community members, who are watching the site 24 hours a day, 7 days
a week, to know the Community Guidelines http://www.youtube.com/t/co
mmunity–guidelines> and to flag content they believe violates the
“We receive thousands of flags every day. Each flagged video is
reviewed quickly, and if we find that a video does violate the rules, we remove
it (usually in less than an hour) and communicate with the person who uploaded
the offending content. We take these violations seriously, and multiple
infractions can result in a user’s suspension or permanent removal from