Yesterday, Google denied claims made by the Israeli Foreign Ministry that the Internet juggernaut reached a deal with the Israeli government to co-monitor YouTube videos purporting to incite attacks.
Last week, the ministry reported that Google, as owner of YouTube, had agreed to jointly participate in monitoring online media and materials – including YouTube videos calling for attacks on Israeli citizens. The report came after a meeting took place between Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely and Google executives.
However, Google denied that any such agreement was made.
In describing the meeting, a Google spokesperson stated that Hotovely met with YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki and Google’s senior counsel for public policy, Juniper Downs, and that it was just “one of many that we have with policymakers from different countries to explain our policies on controversial content, flagging and removals.”
The spokesperson further added that, “The Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs has corrected its original announcement which, in error, suggested there had been an agreement with Google to establish a mechanism to monitor online materials.”
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon responded that Israel is still “extremely grateful for the good relations with Google. Our common objective is to remove dangerous incitement to violence on social media. We have full confidence in the Google teams dealing with this removal.”
Since October 1, Israel has seen a dramatic increase in shooting, stabbing and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians. More than 20 Israelis have been killed in the violence. Moreover, 101 Palestinians died while carrying out, or attempting to carry out attacks on Israelis.
Israel has repeatedly said that online incitement is a major cause of the attacks, as posts and videos honoring and hailing the attackers were widely shared.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on Google, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to do more than simply monitor and remove such incitement material. Yet, the Internet companies defend their policies, believing they have sufficient protection against such incidents.
Google’s spokesperson stated that, “We rely on the YouTube Community to flag videos that they think violate our Community Guidelines. Video flagged on YouTube is reviewed 24 hours a day and, if material violates our policies, it is removed quickly.”
Last month, an Israeli non-governmental organization brought a lawsuit against Facebook over its alleged failure to remove web pages that encouraged and promoted the killing of Jews.