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Anti-Muslim Video Shows Web Firms' Role As Speech Arbiters

Publication Date: 
September 15, 2012
The Washington Post
Craig Timberg

Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties for the Center for Internet and Society, spoke with the Washington Post's Craig Timberg on how Google’s restriction of an anti-Muslim video shows Web’s increasing clout.

Google lists eight reasons on its "YouTube Community Guidelines" page for why it might take down a video. Inciting riots is not among them. But after the White House warned Tuesday that a crude anti-Muslim movie trailer had sparked lethal violence in the Middle East, Google acted.

Days later, controversy over the 14-minute clip from "The Innocence of Muslims" was still roiling the Islamic world, with access blocked in Egypt, Libya, India, Indonesia and Afghanistan — keeping it from easy viewing in countries where more than a quarter of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims live.


"It's a little bit of censorship and a little bit of diplomacy in a difficult situation," said Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties for the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society.