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

Publication Date: 
September 15, 2012
Source: 
The Washington Post
Author: 
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.

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"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.