Amid protests over film, U.S. ambassador to Libya killed

U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement in response to the attack at the U.S. Consulate in Libya as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks on September 12, 2012 at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C.

Jeff Horwich: The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other diplomats have been killed in protests in Benghazi. Religious extremists stormed the U.S. consulate there. A controversial anti-Islamic video, posted on YouTube, was the catalyst for the attack. That has put YouTube and it's owner Google in an uncomfortable position. From Washington, Marketplace's David Gura reports.


David Gura:Hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. David Gross used to coordinate international communications policy for the U.S.

 

David Gross: Generally, because the volume is so great, they cannot monitor this on a real-time basis, so they wait until people either complain or corporations complain or groups complain about it, then they look to see if it has violated their terms and conditions, and then they take it down.

Or they don’t. It’s a very subjective process. Andrew McLaughlin led global public policy at YouTube. He says companies have new power when it comes to speech.

Andrew McLaughlin: We are living in a very strange era where the legal and constitutional free-speech protections that we enjoy are always asterisks, because they’re being implemented by private corporations.

That can make the relationship complicated, between the government and companies like YouTube. David Gross says what the U.S. government should do right now, is stand up for free speech.

Gross: We should not be unduly influenced by the mob actions of others.

A spokesperson for YouTube says that the company won’t comment on individual videos, but if flagged content doesn’t violate the company’s community guidelines, it will remain on the site. In Washington, I’m David Gura, for Marketplace. YouTube statement: On YouTube, people worldwide can express themselves by sharing videos in a safe and legal manner, and this sometimes raises cultural and political issues. We have created Community Guidelines to set a global standard for our users. We take great care when we enforce our policies and try to allow as much content as possible while ensuring that our Community Guidelines are followed. Flagged content that does not violate our Guidelines will remain on the site.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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