Google promises YouTube crackdown on online extremism

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Google's headquarters is shown in Mountain View, California. Google is intensifying its campaign to fight online extremism.
Marcio Jose Sanchez ~ Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google is promising to be more vigilant about preventing terrorist propaganda and other extremist videos from appearing on its YouTube site amid criticism about the internet's role in mass violence.

Its crackdown will involve computer programs and an expanded group of people dedicated to identifying videos promoting terrorism so they can be blocked from appearing on YouTube or quickly removed.

Google is making the commitment in the wake of violent attacks in the U.S. and elsewhere.

A van struck a crowd of people outside a London mosque Sunday, the second time an automobile was used as a weapon in that city this month, and less than a week after a gunman attacked GOP lawmakers on a baseball field.

And earlier this month, British Prime Minister Theresa May called on governments to form international agreements to prevent the spread of extremism online.

Some proposed measures would hold companies legally accountable for the material posted on their sites, a liability Google and other internet companies are trying to avert.

Toward that end, Facebook last week pledged to use more advanced technology and more than 150 human reviewers to find and remove terrorist content before people see it on its social networking site.

Although Google said in a blog post it is been trying to block extremist content for years, general counsel Kent Walker wrote "the uncomfortable truth is that we, as an industry, must acknowledge that more needs to be done. Now."

Anti-hate groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center have skewered Google and Facebook for doing too little to muzzle hate groups online.

Google, along with other companies such as Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter, recently agreed to create an international forum to share and develop technology, support smaller businesses and speed up their joint efforts against online terrorism.

To step up its policing efforts, Google will nearly double the number of independent experts it uses to flag problematic content and expand its work with counter-extremist groups to help identify content that may be used to radicalize and recruit terrorists.

The Mountain View, California, company also will train more people to identify and remove extremist and terrorism-related content faster.

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