'Innocence of Muslims' and Google's decision

Google, YouTube Refuse To Remove ‘Innocence Of Muslims’ Despite White House Request

Despite growing international unrest stemming in part from the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims, Google, YouTube’s parent company, has denied the White House’s request to remove the film from searches and the video sharing site. Though Google has blocked access to it in some parts of the world, the company has said that the film does not violate the company’s terms of service.

The 14-minute film’s portrayal of Islam’s central figure, Muhammad, has received near-universal damnation, even from members of the cast and crew who claim that they were duped into participating in the film, and were outside any knowledge of its propagandist nature. Muslims across the world have shown outrage over the portrayal, initially believing it to be an official American film production rather than an embarrassing and amateur production financed by a small group of extremists.

The short film is thought to have inspired a number of anti-American demonstrations across the Middle East, including an embassy riot in Libya that claimed the lives of four US citizens.

In light of the fallout, the White House requested that Google reconsider keeping the film available through search engines and on YouTube. Despite the violence caused either directly or indirectly by the controversial film, Google decided that Innocence of Muslims does not violate its terms of service regarding hate speech, reports the New York Times.

The company has temporarily restricted access to the film in Libya, Egypt, and other countries due to the “sensitive situations” caused by the film, reports NY Daily.

“We are passionate about our users so we try to take into account local cultures and needs — which vary dramatically around the world — when developing and implementing our global product policies,” wrote Rachel Whetstone, the company’s senior vice president for communications and public policy.

US authorities are currently questioning the film’s producer, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, to see if his involvement in the film violated conditions of his parole stemming from a previous conviction, reports Reuters. Google’s decision and the White House’s request have sparked a conversation regarding censorship regarding content distributed online.

Do you think that Google should block or remove Innocence of Muslims in light of the violent response worldwide?