Moderate Muslims and counter-terrorist activists are increasingly being restricted by Silicon Valley, while terrorist content remains on social-media platforms, according to researchers.
Sam Westrop, the director of the Middle East Forum’s Islamist Watch, wrote for National Review that many critics of “Islamist political ideology” have found themselves subject to bans and restrictions on social media “for articulating reasonable ideas and criticisms that deserve debate rather than restriction.”
YouTube recently banned a video he uploaded four years ago that had received about a million views, he pointed out. It featured Muslims and non-Muslims “on both sides of a balanced and well-moderated argument and broadcast on British state-funded national television.”
The only explanation by YouTube was that the video contained “inappropriate content.”
He cited other examples, among many.
Since July 2016, Google has censored videos published on YouTube by Prager U by moderate Muslim or ex-Muslim voices such as Kasim Hafeez, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Khurram Dara. In 2017, Ex-Muslims of North America, which offers “a home to apostates” facing persecution, was targeted by “a coordinated reporting and flagging campaign,” even though “nothing it posts on social media is remotely hateful,” Westrop said.
In May, Canadian intelligence expert Tom Quiggin lost access to his Gmail and YouTube accounts due to a trailer for a podcast that “merely mentioning the issue of extremism.”
In February, the Middle East Forum asked its readers to submit any examples of censorship on social media and received hundreds of responses.
Westrop recalled that in 2012, YouTube famously blocked access to a short video titled “Innocence of Muslims,” an unflattering portrayal of Islam’s prophet that the Obama administration blamed for the Benghazi attack in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya was killed.
In contrast, the Middle East Media Research Institute in 2015 flagged 115 videos on YouTube that openly incited or celebrated terrorism. And two years later, MEMRI found 69 of the videos remained online.
Another radical Muslims to benefit was prominent Salafi cleric Omar Suleiman, who successfully lobbied Google to adjust its algorithm to exclude search results for Islamic terms such as “jihad” and “shariah” that lead to “offensive or clearly misleading content.”
In 2015, Facebook removed a post of an image of outraged Muslims captioned, “Jokes don’t kill people, Muslims who are offended by jokes kill people.”
In April, a woman in Germany was banned from Facebook for 30 days for posting a set of two pictures: One showed the Iranian women’s national volleyball team from the 1970s, wearing T-shirts and shorts. The other was of the current Iranian team, wearing hijabs and clothes that cover arms and legs.
WND reported in August 2017 the digital payment platform PayPal restricted Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch and his American Freedom Defense Initiative from receiving donations.
- In January 2015, Facebook censored images of Muhammad in Turkey.
- In June 2016, YouTube removed a video titled “Killing for a Cause: Sharia Law & Civilization Jihad,” which concluded, based on a Muslim Brotherhood document and other first-hand evidence, the aim of Islamic supremacists is to subvert the West from within.
- Also in June 2016, Facebook suspended the account of Swedish writer Ingrid Carlqvist for posting a video, produced by Gatestone Institute, on “Sweden’s Migrant Rape Epidemic.”
- In May 2017, Facebook blocked and then shut down the pages of two popular moderate Muslim groups managed and followed by Arabs who reject not only violence and terrorism, but Islam as a religion. Facebook said the content was “in violation of community standards.”
- In August 2017, a YouTube channel containing a playlist of videos by Jihad Watch’s Spencer was removed for a supposed violation of the platform’s “Community Guidelines.”
- Later in August 2017, the London Independent reported Instagram, Twitter and YouTube allegedly had been cooperating with the Iranian regime to block or censor “immoral” content.
Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin wrote in June 2017 that “one of the many maddening takeaways from the London Bridge jihad attack is this: If you post videos on YouTube radicalizing Muslim viewers to kill innocent people, YouTube will leave you alone.”
“But if you post a video on YouTube honoring innocent people murdered by barbaric jihadists, your video will get banned.”
She noted it happened to her in 2006, and 11 years later, the “selective censors at Google-YouTube still can’t competently distinguish terrorist hate speech from political free speech.”
“Islamic hate preachers such as Ahmad Musa Jibril, whose bloodthirsty rants against non-Muslims reportedly inspired the London Bridge ringleader, have flourished,” she wrote.
Mohammad Tahwidi, an Iranian-born Muslim in Australia who describes himself as the “imam of peace,” said in a December 2017 Facebook post he was being censored by social media, with at least eight of 10 of his posts disappearing after they reach more than 800 shares or retweets.
“This is humiliation,” he wrote. “I have a message and I’m going to spread it. I will now be away to work on launching an independent news agency and studio. I won’t be silenced.”
Jihad Watch reported in June that Tawhidi’s Facebook page was shut down in response to a post mocking the terrorist group Hamas and his speaking in sarcastic terms about “peaceful Palestinian protests.”