German Jewish group sues Google and YouTube

Charles Johnson, at Little Green Footballs, frequently notes how often YouTube happily hosts the worst kind of antisemitic garbage, while at the same time shutting down anything that might be perceived as just a little too critical of Islam. He’s not the only one who has noticed this, and a Germany Jewish group has  sued Google and YouTube:

Germany’s leading Jewish group has accused Google and YouTube of hosting anti-Semitic content on its globally popular video site. The group alleges the videos incite racial hatred and discrimination.

A Hitler clip on YouTube: The Central Council of Jews claims the video site has become a hotbed of the radical right-wing scene.
The Central Council of Jews in Germany on Thursday requested that a Hamburg court issue a cease-and-desist order against Google for disseminating what it claims are anti-Semitic videos that incite “racial hatred and discrimination” on its YouTube Web site.

“The radical right-wing scene is using YouTube, massively, as a platform,” said Stephan Kramer, the general secretary of the Central Council of Jews, the umbrella organization of Germany’s Jewish communities. “We are accusing Google, with its YouTube video platform subsidiary of being an accomplice to inciting racial hatred and discrimination.”

The videos, Kramer claims, include one showing a picture of Paul Spiegel, the deceased former head of the Central Council of Jews, being burned with a swastika in the background. For months, he claims, the video has been available for download on the site.

It’s not the first time such allegations have been made against YouTube. In 2006, films with right-wing extremist messages and other dubious content were found. And in November 2007, despite new filtering software installed by YouTube, the Nazi propaganda film “Jud Süss” (“The Jew Suss”) was found on the site. It is illegal to make Nazi propaganda films like “Jud Süss” or Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will” available in Germany without additional commentary about the context in which they were made.


YouTube’s main line of defense against extremists videos is self-policing by its online community. If users spot an inappropriate video that has been uploaded by one of the service’s millions of users, they can report it with the click of a mouse. “These complaints are then handled by (YouTube) employees who have been trained to deal with them,” said Oberbeck. Once a video has been banned, YouTube has technology that can identify it and prevent it from being uploaded again in the future.

But the Central Council of Jews says that’s not enough. Kramer would like to see YouTube hire new workers to scan the site’s massive archive to identify and remove extremist content.

I find it interesting that the challenge is to traditional antisemites, in the Hitler mode, rather than to the equally aggressive antisemitism of the Islamists.

Although I’m uncomfortable about having court’s block speech, I think the fact that Google and YouTube take it upon themselves to block offensive content means that they have an obligation to carry out that responsibility efficiently and even-handedly.  To the extent that they are failing to do so, legal action is as good a way as any to try to get them to enforce their own rules and practices.