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March 31, 2022 2:20 pm
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Former YouTube Moderator Says Platform Ignores ‘Legal and Moral Responsibilities’ to Remove Antisemitic Content

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

YouTube app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

A former YouTube moderator claimed the video platform sidelined warnings to take down antisemitic clips and that he was removed from his job for drawing too much attention to the incendiary material, he told The Jewish Chronicle.

“YouTube’s policy is a sham. They claim they will remove content that glorifies terrorism and contains racist hate speech, but what they do behind the veil of company secrecy is very different,” Khaled Hassan, who worked at the British risk intelligence firm Crisp on identifying extremist content in Arabic videos until earlier this month, told the JC. Crisp is contracted to “flag” content that violates YouTube’s policies and the firm also moderates Facebook.

“They are shirking their legal and moral responsibilities,” Hassan also said about YouTube. “They tell users that their platform is safe. In fact, they are allowing people to be radicalized and reinforcing claims that Jews are evil and rule the world.”

A counter-terrorism expert who combated extremism in Egypt before studying security policy at the UK’s Leicester University, Hassan told JC that despite being informed about the problematic content on its platform, YouTube has refused to remove from its website antisemitic videos — including those that promote terrorism; describe Jews as “the biggest agents of Satan” and “the ultimate source of evil”; and glorify the murder of Jerusalem tour guide Eli Kay in November.

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He further claimed that the platform’s list of “globally designated terrorist individuals” does not include any Palestinian terrorists, and that YouTube also ignored requests to remove videos by Egyptian jihadist Wagdy Ghoneim, who is banned in the UK.

A report by a member of Hassan’s team at Crisp that was received by YouTube on Oct. 28 informed the platform about videos in which the late Pakistani preacher Israr Ahmad makes antisemitic remarks that incite violence against Jews. The report said Ahmad’s promotion of antisemitism in the videos was “likely to lead to real-world violent attacks against Jews, and foment hatred and religious and ethnic tensions.” YouTube ignored the report and all the videos mentioned remain online, Hassan told the JC.

British terrorist Malik Faisal Akram — who took four hostages at the Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, in January — was radicalized in part by watching Ahmad’s YouTube clips, he added.

Hassan said he was moved to a different job within Crisp where he no longer moderated videos because he called out too many clips that YouTube refused to delete from its website. He resigned this month.

YouTube’s website states that content is identified as hate speech “when it incites hatred or violence against groups based on protected attributes such as age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status.”

“This policy also includes common forms of online hate such as dehumanizing members of these groups; characterizing them as inherently inferior or ill; promoting hateful ideology like Nazism; promoting conspiracy theories about these groups; or denying that well-documented violent events took place, like a school shooting,” it says.

On Wednesday, YouTube told the JC it removed Ghoneim’s main channel, but other videos by him remain on the platform. An additional 10 videos were deleted for violating YouTube’s “community guidelines.”

“Content promoting violence or hatred against the Jewish community is not allowed on YouTube,” a spokesperson told the British outlet. “Each quarter, we remove tens of thousands of videos violating our hate speech policies … Our review is ongoing, and we’re committed to taking appropriate action to ensure YouTube is not a place for those who seek to do harm.”

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