31, May 2022 | CJP Team
In their response dated May 31 to our complaint, YouTube has apprised Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) that they have taken cognisance of the accounts we had reported, and suspended six videos for violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines regarding Hate Speech.
Following are the screenshots of the offensive videos blocked by YouTube:
Content: On being asked by a reporter if Muslims don’t belong in India, repeated Hate Offender and a political Hindutva leader says, “The country of India is of Hindus only. Who are you in this? Who are you? On what basis are you asking this question? As a journalist or as a Muslim? If you are asking as a Muslim, then I want to tell you that you have taken your share by dividing the country. Took away double the share of the entire population. This India belongs to Hindus, should remain of Hindus and we want to make it a country of Hindus only.”
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Content: Hate Offender Yati Narsingh Anand says, “Look, if I worship Ram, then I am a Hindu, even if I do not worship Ram, I am a Hindu and even if I abuse Ram, I am a Hindu. So the real secular person is a Hindu. But those who call themselves secular here are not really secular. They are the people licking the spit of Zakat for the jihad of Islam. You are on Muslims’ money, Muslims’ payroll, Saudi Arabia’s payroll. They are not director of Dharam, son, they are not secular; they are supporters of Islam and want to bring Islamic rule in India. So if there is anything most dangerous in the world, it is the Jihad of Islam, it is Islam. They are the cancer of the earth. If it stays for a few more days, it will destroy the whole earth, my daughter.”
Content: A so-called Hindutva supporter commenting on Ram Navami violence says to a reporter, “We celebrate Ramji’s birth anniversary peacefully, shouting slogans of Jai Shri Ram, but only those people do the uproar. Look, the police should have taken care of it. I strongly condemn and criticize it. If these 100 houses belong to Muslims and 1000 houses belong to Hindus then there is no danger to Muslims. But if it is reversed, then it is a problem for Hindus to live there. They should be respecting Hindus.”
YouTube’s Hate Speech Policy under their Community Guidelines reads:
Hate speech is not allowed on YouTube. We remove content promoting violence or hatred against individuals or groups based on any of the following attributes:
- Gender Identity and Expression
- Immigration Status
- Sexual Orientation
- Victims of a major violent event and their kin
- Veteran Status
Monetization and other penalties
In some rare cases, we may remove content or issue other penalties when a creator:
- Repeatedly encourages abusive audience behavior.
- Repeatedly targets, insults and abuses a group based on the attributes noted above across multiple uploads.
- Exposes a group with attributes noted above to risks of physical harm based on the local social or political context.
- Creates content that harms the YouTube ecosystem by persistently inciting hostility against a group with attributes noted above for personal financial gain.
CJP had, in its complaint dated May 20, 2022, brought to light widespread hateful, anti-minority, and especially Islamophobic content that is uploaded onto its platform by a plethora of anonymous “content creators” who abuse the platform to churn hate using fake news, stereotyping and outright calls of violence.
The complaint did not just inform YouTube about the violation of National laws [The Indian Penal Code, 1860; The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021] but also reminded the legal team about its obligations under the international human rights law under various UN instruments and UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. As per the Guidelines, business enterprises should carry out Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) in order to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their adverse human rights impact. Under the HRDD process, they should assess actual and potential human rights impacts, integrate and act upon the findings, track responses and communicate how impacts are addressed.
The complaint also focused on the grave repercussions of such online activity that saw its history in the incidents of communal violence and genocidal pogroms that have damaged India’s social fabric for decades. In both the 2002 Gujarat genocidal carnage, and the Muzaffarnagar pogrom of 2013, rape and gendered violence was used as a weapon of violence against Muslim women.
CJP pressed upon the importance of setting a precedent by monitoring and blocking such content. Even though suspending a few accounts or deleting some content is the first step in countering hate speech, they still remain to be small dents on these concerted, wide-ranging, politically driven campaigns. Even if one handle is banned by a platform, it is easy to set up another account using another anonymous handle. The fact that they are able to have such a wide reach despite their content that is violative of YouTube’s community guidelines, means they are able to thrive and mushroom into more and more accounts.
Citing an example of the European Union’s proposed Digital Services Act (DSA) which establishes accountability standards for online platforms, the complaint discussed how the law protects European users from hate speech, disinformation and other harmful content. CJP explained how under this law, the social media platforms will have to add new procedures for faster removal of content deemed harmful and would be liable if the platforms do not remove any illegal content they detect or bring to their attention despite being aware of such acts.
Accordingly, even though the action taken by YouTube is noteworthy, CJP will continue to strive to ensure that the social media platforms adhere to the same standards in India and undertake concrete steps to counter online hate speech in line with India’s values of fraternity and secularism, upholding the Constitution of India.
Image Courtesy: marketwatch.com