Google decided to suspend a YouTube trailer named “The Innocence of Muslims” in both Libya and Egypt following continued violence in two countries. It is known that violence has reached a new level a couple of days back after the United States ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was killed after protesters stormed the embassy. The incident also resulted to the killing of three other Americans who were with Stevens at the time.
A lame trailer about Islam, The Innocence of Muslims spread virally in YouTube after Muslims around the world protested over it. The trailer currently has over 1.9 million views in YouTube.
Poorly-acted and designed to instigate reactions from the Muslim world, the film also portrays prophet Mohammad, which is a big no-no in Islamic tenet. The violence happened after the trailer was dubbed in Arabic. The bizarre movie reportedly costs about $5 million although many believe the movie may not exists at all. However, U.S. authorities thinks the assault on the embassy in Libya was not just a spontaneous offshoot of the protests because of its complexity.
As the violence spread, all eyes are now on the company responsible for the quick propagation of the inflammatory trailer. Google promptly decided to block the trailer temporarily in Egypt and Libya. It can still be seen somewhere else.
Google said: “We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions. This can be a challenge because what’s OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere. This video–which is widely available on the Web–is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube. However, given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt we have temporarily restricted access in both countries. Our hearts are with the families of the people murdered in yesterday’s attack in Libya.”
Clearly, the decision to stop broadcasting the trailer, albeit temporarily, is not easy for a company that is historically resistant to censorship. The move may seem wise but the spread of the video is now impossible to stop. The response highlighted the company’s struggle and other social networking sites like YouTube to balance ethical concerns and free speech in today’s setting when social media can create a big impact in world events.
The clip, based on a longer film, tries to depict Islamic Prophet Mohammad as a philanderer and a fraud. The 14-minute trailer was allegedly produced by a California-based Israeli Jew named Sam Bacile.
Analysts say Google has developed a strong dislike for removing videos as it was hit by multiple high-profile controversies since its acquisition of YouTube in 2006.
Rebecca MacKinnon, a fellow from the New America Foundation said that “they’re squeezed on all sides”.
“But because of pressure from a lot of people who feel they made the wrong decisions, they now generally err on the side of keeping things up.”