Why Did YouTube Publish Video of Terrorists Beheading James Foley?

After a video surfaced on YouTube Tuesday of Islamic terrorist group ISIS beheading American journalist James Foley, some people asked how this could happen.

A spokesperson for YouTube provided the following statement to Mediaite:

YouTube has clear policies that prohibit content like gratuitous violence, hate speech and incitement to commit violent acts, and we remove videos violating these policies when flagged by our users. We also terminate any account registered by a member of a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization and used in an official capacity to further its interests.

YouTube content is largely made up of self-published videos by the site’s users. But once a video is uploaded, there is a waiting period for it to process, during which moderators at the site can also stop the video from publishing if the content is deemed inappropriate.

YouTube also has some “guidelines” for users posting content. A sample:

  • “YouTube is not for pornography or sexually explicit content. If this describes your video, even if it’s a video of yourself, don’t post it on YouTube. Also, be advised that we work closely with law enforcement and we report child exploitation. Please read our Safety Center and stay safe on YouTube.
  • “Don’t post videos showing bad stuff like animal abuse, drug abuse, under-age drinking and smoking, or bomb making.
  • “Graphic or gratuitous violence is not allowed. If your video shows someone being physically hurt, attacked, or humiliated, don’t post it.”

[Image via YouTube]

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