Joe Lieberman, utilizing his role at the top of the Homeland Security Committee for a change, commanded YouTube to cull "Islamist terrorist" content.
Lieberman asked the company not only to remove existing content but also identify changes that Google plans to make to YouTube's community guidelines and explain how it plans to enforce the guidelines. Lieberman said removing such content should be "a straightforward task since so many of the Islamist terrorist organizations brand their material with logos or icons identifying their provenance."
YouTube's response: Delete videos that break existing rules but "refuse to remove all videos mentioning or featuring these groups without consideration of whether the videos were 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," the company said. "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."
The statement thanked Lieberman for alerting the company last week of several videos which violated the company's community guidelines and that have subsequently been removed. However, the statement said that "most of the videos, which did not contain violent or hate speech content, were not removed because they do not violate our Community Guidelines.
I like the policy, but I'm not sure it's actually YouTube's policy. They've absolutely banned users for publishing videos with a preponderance of hate speech, like anti-Semite Frank Weltner. I'm pretty sure they've banned "the Trash Man," the masked creep who breathes heavily about infecting girls with HIV. YouTube thus far has proven more censorship-resilient than, say, Yahoo, but if they keep getting leaned on by Lieberman, or some fellow travellers with a similar amount of free time, I'm pessimistic about how absolutist they can be here.