Oct 26, 2021
JERUSALEM WEATHER

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Google denied a report from Israel’s foreign ministry regarding an agreement to monitor YouTube videos to prevent messages that incite attacks.

A Google spokesman told AFP that Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) had, indeed, met with Google’s senior counsel for public policy, Juniper Downs, and YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki, but the meeting was just “one of many that we have with policymakers from different countries to explain our policies on controversial content, flagging and removals.”

When Google discovered the inaccurate statement on the Foreign Ministry’s website, they contacted the ministry which “has corrected its original announcement which, in error, suggested there had been an agreement with Google to establish a mechanism to monitor online materials.”

The Foreign Ministry’s Nov. 24 statement has since been altered, and it now reads: “As part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ campaign against online incitement, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely met with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and with Jennifer Downes, Director of Public Policy at Google at the company’s Silicon Valley offices.

“Deputy Minister Hotovely was briefed on the companies’ system for identifying video clips which incite to violence. In the meetings, Hotovely raised the problem of incitement which goads small children to go out and stab innocents: ‘The daily stabbings in Israel are a result of young boys and girls who are indoctrinated from an early age in the Palestinian education system and through social media. We are engaged daily in confronting incitement to violence, a task which can benefit greatly from the cooperation of those companies that are involved in social media.’”

Foreign ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon confirmed the release was corrected, saying Israel was nevertheless “extremely grateful for the good relations with Google. Our common objective is to remove dangerous incitement to violence on social media. We have full confidence in the Google teams dealing with this removal.”

Of course, inciting messages from a variety of Arab sources continue to rule the day on YouTube. Perhaps the Google policy of benign neglect would prove in the end to be more effective, trusting saturation to lower viewer interest. After all, how many users still drop everything to click on a new ISIS beheading video?