Monday, YouTube told The Daily Beast that the company would not block a couple of accounts belonging to Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi organization associated with several recent murders that the nonprofit publication ProPublica called "one of the country's most notorious extremist groups.”
One YouTube video titled "Zealous Operation" showed masked members of the group yelling "gas the kikes, race war now," before they begin firing guns. This specific video appears to have been removed some time after The Daily Beast article was published. Other videos on the same channel, including one showing masked members of the group putting up swastikas and signs saying "black lives don't matter" around Washington’s Evergreen State College, are still live.
“We announced last June that we would be taking a tougher stance on videos that are borderline against our policies on hate speech and violent extremism by putting them behind a warning interstitial and removing certain features, such as recommended videos and likes,” a YouTube spokesperson told The Daily Beast. “We believe this approach strikes a good balance between allowing free expression and limiting affected videos’ ability to be widely promoted on YouTube.”
Now, the Anti-Defamation League tells Motherboard it's asking YouTube to take down those videos "immediately."
“Just today we released a report showing a 60 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents over the past year, and we know this type of material only contributes to that," ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. "These videos are not only disgusting racist content that has no place in our society, but they incite hatred against one religious group—in this case, Jews—therefore violating YouTube’s own Community Guidelines. YouTube should take them down immediately.”
"Bottom line is [YouTube's] policy states pretty clearly that if the content is inciting hate against a group of people, it violates their policy," Jonathan Vick, the Anti-Defamation League’s Associate Director, Investigative Technology and Cyberhate Response, told me in a phone call. "That's what their guidelines say."
Vick said that ADL has been working with YouTube and other technology companies for several years to fight against hate speech on their platforms. Last year, the organization applauded Google and YouTube in blocking and removing extremist content on YouTube.
However, Vick said it's an ongoing process.
"We certainly flag those video when they're brought to our attention, there's a limit to how much we can do," he said. "When it comes down to it, the enforcement is really up to them."