Research

YouTube blocks videos of late jihadist cleric

YouTube blocks videos of late jihadist cleric

The Times noted that a small number of clips of Awlaki speaking disappeared after the paper sent an inquiry about the site's policy change last week.

That number has since been reduced to around 18,500, and the majority of videos available appear to be news reports and documentaries about his life and death.

The new program creates a database of unique digital "fingerprints" to help automatically identify videos or images the companies could remove. At the time, YouTube said its community policies "prohibit unsafe or illegal activities such as bomb-making, hate speech, or incitement to commit specific and serious acts of violence".

Google Public Policy Manager Verity Harding said that about 300 hours of video material was being uploaded to YouTube every minute, making it virtually impossible for the company to filter all images. However, he still remained a unsafe figure, with his incendiary lectures and sermons still accessible online. His radical message was reportedly influential in attacks on the Boston Marathon, in Fort Hood, San Bernardino, and Orlando.

Tech giants Google, Facebook and Twitter have come under intense scrutiny from governments and anti-terrorism advocates over the dissemination of extremist, hateful and violent content on their sites as well as their failure to immediately remove them.

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Counterterrorism proponents and governments have expressed concerns that Awlaki's videos, as well as other forms of Islamist propaganda, could fuel homegrown extremism.

In the past few months, Google has been actively keeping a check on YouTube content.

Social media has increasingly become a tool for recruiting and radicalization by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The three websites have all revealed that Russian actors used their platforms during the 2016 presidential campaign to spread propaganda and pose as American voters.