Less than a day after YouTube said it would not remove videos from the violent hate group Atomwaffen Division, the video streaming giant reversed course.
The group, a US-based antisemitic and white supremacist organization, had posted many hate-filled videos, including one calling for a race war and to “gas the kikes,” before members fired weapons, according to Vice. The group has been linked to several murders in the US, including most recently the fatal stabbing of gay Jewish teenager Blaze Bernstein by an AWD member earlier this year. That murder was celebrated by the group in messages recently released by ProPublica.
Despite being aware of the content of AWD’s videos after they were flagged by users and media outlets, YouTube said as late as Tuesday that it would not delete them. Instead, it marked the clips with a warning, telling users who clicked that “the following content has been identified by the YouTube community as inappropriate or offensive to some audiences.”
At the time, YouTube told The Daily Beast that it believes “this approach strikes a good balance between allowing free expression and limiting affected videos’ ability to be widely promoted on YouTube.”
This stance angered many groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, which called for them to be immediately taken down.
“Just today we released a report showing a 60% increase in antisemitic incidents over the past year, and we know this type of material only contributes to that,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt on Tuesday. “These videos are not only disgusting racist content that has no place in our society, but they incite hatred against one religious group – in this case, Jews – therefore violating YouTube’s own Community Guidelines. YouTube should take them down immediately.”
And by Wednesday, YouTube had reversed course, pulling the videos and the account, “due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy prohibiting hate speech,” according to Vice.
YouTube did not respond to a request for comment.
The ADL praised the move, calling it “the type of quick action we need in order to combat #hate online.”
Social media has increasingly become a battleground over hate speech and Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are being pulled into the fray.
Earlier this week two pro-Israel accounts were sanctioned by Twitter before the moves were reversed. The account GnasherJew, which says it exists “to showcase “the UK Labour Party’s antisemitism issues,” was ordered to delete its profile image for containing “hateful imagery.” The image was a yellow Star of David reading “Jude,” like one Jews were forced to wear in the Holocaust. Twitter told The Jerusalem Post the decision was a mistake and had been reversed – but it never reached out to inform the account itself.
On the same day, the CanaryMission Twitter account was suspended by Twitter. The controversial group creates a blacklist of students and professors on campus who associate with BDS and anti-Israel groups. Its contentious tactics have seen it suspended from Facebook in the past. But in this case as well, Twitter told the Post that “the account was suspended in error by our team and has since been restored.” A PR representative refused to respond to further questions.
Canary Mission released a statement on Wednesday attributing the restoration to “a barrage of complaints” and said it has launched two new Twitter feeds in addition to its original one.