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Terrorist Groups Using YouTube to Distribute Propaganda

by Sam Gliksman

November 12, 2010 | 11:14 am

Anwar al-Awlaki video urges Muslims to take up arms against the USA

One of the major features of modern, “web 2.0” internet technologies is the ability for anyone to publish material that can quickly be disseminated across the world. This has been utilized by politicians attempting to widen their election campaigns, companies trying to establish new brands ... and terrorists seeking to spread their hateful messages. Despite efforts to block offensive material, leading video website YouTube has fast become a focal point for terrorist groups pursuing new viral mechanisms for distributing their propaganda across the internet. Youtube has recently responded to numerous government requests to remove videos of radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki urging Muslims to take up arms against the United States. Despite their efforts however, many videos remain available and even more terrorist propaganda is constantly being posted.

A simple search for prominent Al-Qaeda member Anwar al-Awlaki on YouTube will reveal dozens of video clips, many of which preach hatred towards the USA and all non-believers in Islam. According to the FastCompany website, these range from sermons on the Biblical/Qu’ranic figure of Lot (which quickly turns into an anti-homosexuality rant) to lectures on Muslim history to rants against the Freemasons to far more political content.

Until recently, most terrorist organizations maintained their own websites and posted propaganda there. However, Jihadists now view YouTube as a key strategic means for distributing their propaganda to wide mainstream audiences that may never visit their sites. YouTube has very clear policy that allows the posting of religious material but forbids any content that would be regarded as an incitement to violence. Peppering sites such as YouTube with a constant stream of new video makes it difficult for YouTube to flag and delete objectionable content. Often it will take months for an offensive video to be removed from the site. It is also common for any visitors that flag offensive content to be bombarded with abusive and violent responses from jihadist supporters.

Many jihadist groups post their videos in a number of different languages such as Arabic, English, French and Russian in an effort to broaden their reach and influence. And the range of groups using YouTube stretch way beyong Al-Qaeda.

Read the full story on the FastCompany website

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Sam Gliksman was born in Australia. As a child, the closest he ever came to technology was playing with a yo-yo that lit up at night. After college Sam made aliyah and took his...

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