Archive for Thursday, September 18, 2008

Drawing the line

It won’t eliminate terrorism videos from the Internet, but YouTube has taken a step in the right direction.

September 18, 2008


YouTube's recent decision to ban terror training videos and other videos that incite violent acts may be a drop in the Internet bucket, but it at least shows that the Web site is willing to acknowledge and accept some responsibility for the content posted there.

Although YouTube is a popular video-sharing site, it is, by no means, the only place on the Internet where terrorism videos can be found. For that reason, its action may be largely symbolic, but it nonetheless is a positive effort to try to curb the proliferation of pro-terrorism information. The Internet also has become a common tool for those who want to recruit terrorists to their cause.

Some critics have raised the issue of censorship in connection with YouTube's decision. Given the level of access individual users have to the Internet, it's hard to take that criticism seriously. YouTube runs the site and should have a right to regulate what appears there. If people feel censored by YouTube policies, there are plenty of other places to post their materials - at least for now.

The current presidential campaign has focused considerable attention on "information" that is available on the Internet. Candidates are using the Internet to spread their message as never before, but they also must contend with the endless misinformation and mean-spirited comments that spew forth in some Web postings. The public dialogue that the Internet facilitates is great, but too often that dialogue is dragged down by people who intentionally misrepresent the truth (some would call it "lying"), and spread unfounded rumors about everything from candidates' stands on issues to "news" about their families.

The fact that a popular site like YouTube has chosen to take a stand against at least some content it deems inappropriate and perhaps dangerous is a positive move. Videos on how to build a bomb or join a terrorist organization still will be available on the Internet, but at least one site is willing to make a statement that such "information" is not the best use of the Internet communication tools.

It's a small step, but it's a step.


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