Google is refusing to remove a YouTube video featuring David Duke that attacks Jews, despite admitting that the content is “anti-semitic, deeply offensive and shocking.” British MPs criticized Google after it claimed that the video entitled “Jews admit organizing white genocide” did not breach its rules on hate speech.
Originally posted in 2015, the video became a talking point after the UK’s home affairs select committee highlighted it during a parliamentary inquiry into hate crime on social media. The Times reports that executives from Google, Facebook and Twitter were summoned before the committee and were criticized for refusing to act against hate speech.
In the YouTube video, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke talks about “white genocide,” a myth perpetuated by white supremacists to encourage hatred of Jews. He states:
“The Zionists have already ethnically cleansed the Palestinians, why not do the same thing to Europeans and Americans as well? No group on earth fights harder for its interests than do the Jews. By dividing a society they can weaken it and control it.”
The David Duke video was one of three highlighted by the committee; the other two were removed. A video celebrating the murder of MP Jo Cox by National Action, a neo-Nazi group, was one of the videos removed.
Google VP Peter Barron for Communications admits that the video was “anti-Semitic, deeply offensive and shocking,” but said it did not constitute hate speech, insisting that it was “right on the borderline.”
Yvette Cooper, who leads the committee, disagreed, saying that the video appeared to breach the platform’s guidelines on hate speech and cited the platform’s policy:
“It is generally acceptable to criticize a nation state, but not acceptable to post malicious, hateful comments about a group of people solely based on their race.”
“How on earth is that not a breach of your own guidelines?” Cooper asked. “I think most people would be appalled by that video and think it goes against all standards of public decency in this country.”
Speaking in defense of the company, Barron said the platform acts against videos that incite or condone violence. “Our teams are making highly principled decisions and debating with a lot of intensity these issues,” he said. “We’re not looking at these questions lightly.”
“Your answers feel like a bit of a joke,” Cooper replied. “It doesn’t feel you are even playing by your own rules.”
The committee condemned Google for not proactively removing videos inciting hate, relying instead on its users to report offensive content, despite making over $30 billion in profits last year. An investigation by The Times revealed that advertisements for companies like Mercedes-Benz, Waitrose and Marie Curie featured prominently in videos published by ISIS supporters and other terrorist sympathizers.
Labour MP Chuka Umunna asked Barron why “hate peddlers” were allowed to profit from the platform’s advertisements. According to the Times, Barron admitted that ads were “on occasion” placed on extremist material but that the company “worked hard to remove offensive material.”
Separately, a Twitter executive was asked why anti-Semitic tweets targeting public figures were allowed to proliferate on the social media platform despite previous complaints by the committee. He said that company was improving its tools.
The committee also criticized Facebook for not taking down Holocaust-denial pages that they previously flagged. The platform recently removed a breast cancer awareness video, deeming it “offensive.” The executive defended the company’s inaction and said that the pages did not incite violence and instead “exposed deniers’ views to criticism.”