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The Implications of Google Restricting Access To Anti-Islam Film 727

ideonexus writes "While the decision has been a footnote in most news stories, the Washington Post is raising the question of what it means that Google can shut down access to the anti-Islam film in countries where that film has sparked riots, something the American government cannot do thanks to our First Amendment. A popular meme in the Information Age is that the Internet spreads democracy by enabling citizens to organize and speak out, but we forget that much of that speech is now hosted by third parties who are under no obligation to protect it."
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The Implications of Google Restricting Access To Anti-Islam Film

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  • If you think (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cornwallis ( 1188489 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @05:26AM (#41350841)

    that shutting down access to anything in this country can't be done by the American gubmint "thanks" to our First Amendment then let me sell you this bridge I own...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Makoska ( 2731039 )
      Could someone please link to the actual video? There are lots of news about it but has anyone even see the video? What are we supposed to be talking about here?
      • Re:If you think (Score:5, Informative)

        by GarretSidzaka ( 1417217 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @05:54AM (#41350933)
        • by SimonTheSoundMan ( 1012395 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @06:23AM (#41351049) Homepage

          I find that video highly offensive, because of its poor production value and acting.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 16, 2012 @06:28AM (#41351067)

            "I find that video highly offensive, because of its poor production value and acting."

            Judging the poor production, I suspect it's another Uwe Boll movie.

          • by SternisheFan ( 2529412 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @07:46AM (#41351319)

            I find that video highly offensive, because of its poor production value and acting.

            It had a really lousy opening weekend.

        • Re:If you think (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bmo ( 77928 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @06:59AM (#41351197)

          I can't last more than two minutes into this horrible thing. What the hell am I watching? And this trailer and it goes on for 14 minutes? What?

          Apparently the English subtitles are what the Arabic overdubs were. Even I find it offensive in English. The English dialog offensive and insulting to the viewer in a "You're kidding me, right? No, wait, you're serious?" kind of way and text translation of the Arabic dub is just a middle finger to the viewer, whether Muslim or not. Uwe Boll's movies look like Citizen Kane in comparison (yes, I did just write Citizen Kane and Uwe Boll in the same sentence, deal with it). It is the equivalent of taking a shit on the centerpiece of a dinner table while the diners are eating, which in some instances might be absurdist, but not in this case.

          It has no artistic merit at all, not even as a study in how to insult someone cleverly. I have no single word to truly describe how offensive this as a film except just obscenity.

          And then we have people with power over there in the ME telling their followers that this movie should be taken seriously and to go out and riot not knowing the full truth behind it and most of the time never even seeing the trailer.

          And we've got neocons like the FPI (you know, Romney's foreign policy advisors) pounding the war drums for yet another war somewhere in the ME. Preferably in Iran, but given Romney's words the other day, I guess anywhere in the ME where we can send 19 year old kids to die is good enough.

          No, this isn't a setup, no not at all.

          Cui bono?


          • Re:If you think (Score:5, Insightful)

            by m.ducharme ( 1082683 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @07:55AM (#41351357)

            Cui bono?


            I've been asking myself this same question since the story broke. Sadly, far too many disparate groups are benefitting from this, including but not limited to Israel, Al Qaida (whatever that really means), fundamentalist Christians, Salafists and Wahabbists in the Middle East, the idiot who made the film, and possibly others. And this doesn't count people or groups who may have thought they'd benefit from it, but aren't, like Mitt Romney's campaign team, and the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt.

            So yeah, pick your motive, take your chances. This mess is benefitting someone, somehow. I wonder if the US based creators of this film can be charged with negligent homicide. I sure hope so.

            • Re:If you think (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Maritz ( 1829006 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @03:32PM (#41355109)

              I wonder if the US based creators of this film can be charged with negligent homicide. I sure hope so.

              Couldn't possibly disagree more. You're basically saying that if I offend a Muslim and they kill someone while they're throwing their tantrum, the death is my fault? This kind of attitude is just enabling their precious, immature behaviour.

              How about they get a thicker skin. Better idea.

          • Re:If you think (Score:4, Informative)

            by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @12:24PM (#41353291)

            And that is why it's smart that Google is trying to pull this down. This beyond "free speech" and the "yellow journalism" from ALL the actors is starting real wars and real killing.

            Obviously, the cat is out of the bag, but at least Google can stop GOOGLE'S resources from being used to throw more fuel on the fire.

            This is kind of an Islamic "Tea Party" thing where the far right wing has got something they can use against their OWN governments. The new governments in these countries are trying to be responsible... The "right" wants to push further right than the dictators ever did. This is their power grab.

            This is like how the GOP trots out gay marriage, abortion, and second amendment, while thumping the Bible... Because there is no political gain in working for everybody to get along when we mostly agree.

  • have you seen it? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GarretSidzaka ( 1417217 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @05:32AM (#41350861)

    this movie is not at all "free-speech"! this movie is a conspiracy!!! this movie was designed to cause riots!!

    watch the movie trailer, all parts with mohammed and anti muslim intent are COMPLETELY DUBBED IN!!

    the actors themselves have stated that they did not know that the movie was about Islam, but was casted under the title "Dessert Warriors"

    it screams psy-ops or simple chaos sowing.

    • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @05:41AM (#41350893)

      It's certainly possible that it was a deliberate provocation altough people who want to be offended can always find a reason to do so.

      • Re:have you seen it? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @06:13AM (#41351007)
        Quite possible. Look at it from the perspective of someone in the religious right: They see the world divided, with the forces of Islam threatening to destroy western civilisation - a violent barbarian horde, willing to kill all who oppose them. Even worse, the rest of western society seems blinded to this - unable to see through their political correctness and fear of being seen as racist that there is a culture war on. This must be quite terrifying for those right-wing Christians - it's as if Hitler was marching across Europe, and Chamberlain just wants to sit down with him for tea and crumpets. So, they ask, how can they convince the leaders of the free world that Islam poses a threat so serious that action must be taken? The answer seems obvious: Let the fanatics be their own undoing. Goad them into acts of violence so great that they can no longer be ignored, and so prove to everyone that there can be no possibility of a peaceful coexistance.

        It's a good plan, too, because it really does prove their point. If even just making an obscure film insulting the religion is enough to spark off riots and murders around the world, then it does start to look like the multicultural dream isn't realistic. When the foundational ideals of one culture are an intolerable evil to another, how can they occupy the same space without conflict?
        • Re:have you seen it? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 16, 2012 @06:51AM (#41351157)

          When the foundational ideals of one culture are an intolerable evil to another, how can they occupy the same space without conflict?

          You are unfortunately speaking the truth when it comes to fanatical members of Islam. Their culture is incompatible with the majority of western cultures, I'm not stating this based on having read anything in the Koran, simply based on observation. You do not see Christian's on crusades murdering, you don't see Jews in violent riots, the Sikh's do not try to destroy embassies, or those with believe in Hinduism (the 3rd largest world religion behind Christianity and Islam).

          I do believe there are a majority of Islamist people who are peaceful and compatible with other religions. Unfortunately for them there are a large number of radical members of their religion causing a serious problem.

          Terry Jones and Fred Phelps are real embarrassments for many Christians. They both spread hate in the name of their religion, which is shared by millions of others. They don't speak for those millions of others, and I hope the world generally understands this. These are fanatical members of Christianity. These are the people who incite others to violence--either it's gay rights, military families, or radical Islamist's.

          I think the important thing to take away is that not all Islamist's are the problem. Arab does not equal bad. Individual people are bad. Groups of people are not always* bad, and so it is unfair and wrong to target entire groups when a small segment is the problem.

          BTW, we should also consider our own media outlets. For example, if you were an foreign person watching mainstream media reports during the peak of the Occupy movement you might get the impression that it was a movement that the majority of the US was behind, that it was disrupting daily life, and a real clash between the people and the establishment... the truth is that it was quite localized, and while many average citizens were willing to make some posts to Facebook about it, they were not going to the movement organizations, or anything like that. So the truth is that the number of American (and other) people actually actively involved in the occupy movement were very small. The same thing is going on here. We see reports of riots, destruction, etc--how many people are showing for these vs. the total populations? Is this just an over inflation and over dramatization by our news media which are compelled to have 24/7 video coverage of events? The same media who will select the best angles to make a crowd look bigger? The same media who will float a canoe down a street with 2" of water, while filming at a low angle, to make watchers believe the street has feet of water on it--only to be embarrassed when two people walk right has the canoe in standard boots?

          Don't allow the media to "radicalize" YOU. Yes, violent demonstrations that end in death and destruction must be taken very seriously. And those who performed these terrible acts should be caught, tried and punished. But do not be goaded into escalating that violence.

        • Re:have you seen it? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @08:46AM (#41351627)

          My kids (non-religious and mixed-race) are in a Jewish day care center whose employees include a hijab-wearing Muslim. Now, I'll grant you that the Orthodox members do have their own room with their own teacher - but in general it shows that multiculturalism can and does work.

          What doesn't work is extremism, and we should all work to rein it in.

    • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @06:01AM (#41350957)

      You can't troll people who don't CHOOSE to be trolled!

      Piss Christ didn't cause Christians to kill people, and THAT was a much more stylish troll.

      If your Superstition (all religions are bullshit, prove /Deity exists or fuck off) can't deal with criticism, it reflects on the Superstition.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        If you perform an act that has no other intention than to deliberately provoke someone you know to be an unstable violent maniac and you know will choose to go on a murderous rampage, you carry a some measure of responsiblity for that rampage.
      • Piss Christ didn't cause Christians to kill people... []

        Serrano received death threats and hate mail, and lost grants due to the controversy.
        The work was vandalized at the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, and gallery officials reported receiving death threats in response to Piss Christ.
        During a retrospective of Serrano's work at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1997, the then Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, George Pell, sought an injunction from the Supreme Court of Victoria to restrain the National Gallery of Victoria from publicly displaying Piss Christ, which was not granted. Some days later, one patron attempted to remove the work from the gallery wall, and two teenagers later attacked it with a hammer.

        Just because no one was actually killed, it does not make one kind of religious violence more civilized or rational than the other.
        Nor is it unheard of for Christian religious fanatics to commit indiscriminate acts of violence over a movie. []

        You can't troll people who don't CHOOSE to be trolled!

        Now that's being a bit obtuse.
        We ARE talking here about people who believe that they have a direct line to the creator of the Universe by kneeling on the floor, putting their hands in a certain position and pronouncing

  • Tarek Mehanna (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 16, 2012 @05:33AM (#41350867)

    First Amendment is BS. Read up on the Tarek Mehanna case .

    Exactly four years ago this month I was finishing my work shift at a
    local hospital. As I was walking to my car I was approached by two
    federal agents. They said that I had a choice to make: I could do
    things the easy way, or I could do them the hard way. The “easy “ way,
    as they explained, was that I would become an informant for the
    government, and if I did so I would never see the inside of a
    courtroom or a prison cell. As for the hard way, this is it. Here I
    am, having spent the majority of the four years since then in a
    solitary cell the size of a small closet, in which I am locked down
    for 23 hours each day. The FBI and these prosecutors worked very
    hard—and the government spent millions of tax dollars – to put me in
    that cell, keep me there, put me on trial, and finally to have me
    stand here before you today to be sentenced to even more time in a

    In the weeks leading up to this moment, many people have offered
    suggestions as to what I should say to you. Some said I should plead
    for mercy in hopes of a light sentence, while others suggested I would
    be hit hard either way. But what I want to do is just talk about
    myself for a few minutes.

    When I refused to become an informant, the government responded by
    charging me with the “crime” of supporting the mujahideen fighting the
    occupation of Muslim countries around the world. Or as they like to
    call them, “terrorists.” I wasn’t born in a Muslim country, though. I
    was born and raised right here in America and this angers many people:
    how is it that I can be an American and believe the things I believe,
    take the positions I take? Everything a man is exposed to in his
    environment becomes an ingredient that shapes his outlook, and I’m no
    different. So, in more ways than one, it’s because of America that I
    am who I am.

    When I was six, I began putting together a massive collection of comic
    books. Batman implanted a concept in my mind, introduced me to a
    paradigm as to how the world is set up: that there are oppressors,
    there are the oppressed, and there are those who step up to defend the
    oppressed. This resonated with me so much that throughout the rest of
    my childhood, I gravitated towards any book that reflected that
    paradigm – Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and I
    even saw an ethical dimension to The Catcher in the Rye.

    By the time I began high school and took a real history class, I was
    learning just how real that paradigm is in the world. I learned about
    the Native Americans and what befell them at the hands of European
    settlers. I learned about how the descendents of those European
    settlers were in turn oppressed under the tyranny of King George III.
    I read about Paul Revere, Tom Paine, and how Americans began an armed
    insurgency against British forces – an insurgency we now celebrate as
    the American revolutionary war. As a kid I even went on school field
    trips just blocks away from where we sit now. I learned about Harriet
    Tubman, Nat Turner, John Brown, and the fight against slavery in this
    country. I learned about Emma Goldman, Eugene Debs, and the struggles
    of the labor unions, working class, and poor. I learned about Anne
    Frank, the Nazis, and how they persecuted minorities and imprisoned
    dissidents. I learned about Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King,
    and the civil rights struggle. I learned about Ho Chi Minh, and how
    the Vietnamese fought for decades to liberate themselves from one
    invader after another. I learned about Nelson Mandela and the fight
    against apartheid in South Africa. Everything I learned in those years
    confirmed what I was beginning to learn when I was six: that
    throughout history, there has been a constant struggle between the
    oppressed and their oppressors. With each struggle I learned

    • Re:Tarek Mehanna (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Rexdude ( 747457 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @06:59AM (#41351195)

      And in response, there's the Iranian ex-Muslim Ali Sina, whose site and allied site are both currently conveniently down. He writes movingly about his journey from being a devout Muslim to one who researched the Koran in its original Arabic and decided to quit the religion as he was appalled by what it teaches. And every statement he makes is backed up with chapter and verse citations from the book, no less.
      He makes the case that Islam is by nature a violent and conquest obsessed religion that advocates no mercy towards non Muslims (with full citations from the Koran, no less) and that Muslims who get offended by this statement are living in denial about the true nature of their faith (i.e. that all talk of peace and brotherhood is only applicable to fellow Muslims, that those who don't worship Allah are beneath contempt and should be crushed, and that its ultimate goal is to take over the world).
      And well, you just have to look at the history of Islam to see that barring very few exceptions, Islamic rulers have just sacked and pillaged their way around the world.

      Islam is overdue for a reformation movement such as what swept Christianity during the Renaissance. Unfortunately most people go on parroting that it's the religion of peace [], that terrorists are misguided fanatics instead of the fact that they're actually doing what their book tells them to [] i.e. it is a recipe for fanaticism, intolerance and murder of non Muslims.

      Finally - as most of you will see this as a bigoted rant - there is a distinction between Islam and Muslims. It is the former that should be opposed, not the latter, the majority of whom are content to mind their own business and live their lives without trying to hurt others. But hey, let's all be politically correct because, 'religion of peace []', right?
      And if you say 'Old Testament'- BITCH PLEASE. There was this little thing known as the Reformation, and do a tally of the number of Christian fanatic inspired terror attacks around the world compared to Islam inspired ones.

      Then again, there's no telling how many are going to just blindly mod this as a troll post.

      • Re:Tarek Mehanna (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 16, 2012 @08:42AM (#41351603)

        and do a tally of the number of Christian fanatic inspired terror attacks around the world compared to Islam inspired ones.

        Are we allowed to count Iraq invation here ? Bush said god told him to attack Iraq. There are countless other examples, but even this one war would probably tally more deaths than you can find by muslim "terrorists".

        Another issue is that it is a fact that the west is oppressing the middle east. Oppressed people, whether they be christians or muslims or any other faith will tend to get violent (at least some percentage of them will) when oppressed too much. I find it strange that people think this is just "illiterates" acting based only on one incident. The constant pressure of oppression over time means that certain events that may not look so serious to you serve as catalysts for such violence.

        Also, you have not had your dearest principles attacked along with all the ones you do not hold dear. It is easy to judge from a distance that "ooh, this can't be so bad can it", when it is not your every cultural principle being systematically destroyed, and it is not your people being enslaved by big business (or whatever the force behind it is) supported by military force.

      • by guises ( 2423402 )

        Then again, there's no telling how many are going to just blindly mod this as a troll post.

        Whenever I see something like this, or someone says "I have karma to burn," or something related, I *always* mod down if I have the points. I don't, so I'm going to respond instead:

        You are replying to something that the GP did not say. Tarek Mehanna spoke briefly about why Islam was important to him, and then at length about various horrors inflicted upon various Muslims around the world, often with US support. He also spoke about the importance of resisting this sort of oppression.

        Unless your claim is

  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @05:37AM (#41350883)

    All Internet 'speech' is hosted by third parties, if you go far enough up the chain. Even if you avoid Youtube etc., and post a video/article to your website, someone can complain to your webhost and get your hosting yanked. Colocate or own a blade in a datacenter? Datacenter owner can yank you. Use Akamai or another CDN? They can yank you. If they're getting DDoSed because of 'speech' on your site, they'll find an excuse in their EULA to justify dropping you.

    Now let's say you own a datacenter. Your BGP peers can disconnect from you, stranding you from the Internet. If you find a webhost that cares about free speech, people can jump over them and get their provider to disconnect the entire webhost (this has happened before).

    P2P infrastructure depends on peers wanting to connect to you. If you're seen as 'toxic' then noone will.

    • Not an issue, so long as there are alternatives. If your webhost yanks you, you can always get another - there are thousands of them. The problem arises when one company becomes of such importance that it has an effective veto over what may be published and seen. There are alternatives to youtube for hosting video, and plenty of them, but there are none for promoting video. If this same film had just been posted on someone's website, chances are it would never have been seen by more than a hundred or so peo
  • Do it already (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ImaLamer ( 260199 ) <> on Sunday September 16, 2012 @05:41AM (#41350897) Homepage Journal

    Let me see, the film has caused a violent backlash and Google is wanting to block people from seeing in areas that further cause a violent backlash? I'm not at all concerned about the implications. As stated many times, it's their service, if Al Qaeda want's to spread it they can make VHS (VCD?) copies or whatever and do so. The film maker who is certainly enjoying the violent response (that he aimed for) is more than welcome to ship copies anywhere in the world he wants.

    Spare me the false logic arguments of "what's next?". Google does not have to be the hosting provider of hate speech if it doesn't want to. And they certainly have the right to be selective on what airs where. I see it as good "citizenship" in a way. They already can remove my videos calling for the mass murder of all Slashdot readers - just because, never mind it's not even constitutionally protected speech.

    I'm pretty sure by looking back now at Google, Twitter and Facebook they didn't discourage spreading information that lead to violent revolutions (Wikileaks still shows up in searches for example) in these countries when the causes were noble (i.e. toppling un-wanted and brutal/corrupt leaders). The track record thus far has shown they self censor when appropriate.

    I get slippery slopes and all that - and I get that you don't have the right to not be offended... but today money is speech, corporations are people and hate speech is lauded over violent reactions. Even shooting and killing your own citizens to defend an embassy of another country isn't enough to satisfy those who want to further fan the flames of hate. In what world is is okay to continue answering hate speech with more hate speech and then cry foul when it comes down to blows? There is less civility in civilization every day. What happened to "mutual respect"? Why sabotage years of peace just because you can?

    For goodness sake, do you think the people who died want the video spread even more? Don't you think their families hold both parties accountable (of course the killers more so - but still)?

  • They can "host" a Tea Party on their front lawn, or host a Occupy Lawn! on their front lawn as they damn well please. Around election time, folks in the US put up signs on their front lawns saying "Obama's Cool!" or "Romney Rocks!" No one can force them to put up or take down a sign.

    As long as it's not violating any laws, Google can choose to host whatever they want on their YouTube. It's THEIR site and THEIR policy. There is nothing "new" about this. Newspapers have always been free to print or not p

  • To be precise, they actually have no obligation to host your free speech, especially not in countries where there is no free speech.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 16, 2012 @06:19AM (#41351027)
    The image of the Hebrew prophet Moses high-fiving Jesus Christ as both are having their erect penises vigorously masturbated by Ganesha, all while the Hindu deity anally penetrates Buddha with his fist [] reportedly went online at 6:45 p.m. EDT, after which not a single bomb threat was made against the organization responsible, nor did the person who created the cartoon go home fearing for his life in any way. Though some members of the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths were reportedly offended by the image, sources confirmed that upon seeing it, they simply shook their heads, rolled their eyes, and continued on with their day.
  • Invisible forms (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ostracus ( 1354233 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @06:38AM (#41351099) Journal

    A popular meme in the Information Age is that the Internet spreads democracy by enabling citizens to organize and speak out...

    A rather one sided meme. The internet spreads hate and intolerance as well using the same principles. The internet is both a conduit and a doorstep shaped by the capacity to make perception what we want.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @06:46AM (#41351135) Journal

    Wait, nobody knew that Google was a private company and can do pretty much whatever they want in terms of limiting access to content?

  • It'll take time... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SternisheFan ( 2529412 ) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @08:33AM (#41351541)
    From what I know of this "prophet" Mohammed, he was a good guy, and just like Jesus Christ, he taught love and respect for fellow human beings. He pulled his group of people together, got them working towards a better standard of living, for that time. He helped to pull his people out of poverty. Taught non-violence. But as he was nearing the end of his life, he realized they were going to create a religion with him as their central "savior", and he didn't want them to do that. Like Jesus, Mohammed told his people, "No! There's nothing special about me. I'm a man just like you!" But they didn't listen, and went ahead and made a religion about him anyway. And the Crusades created a hatred of anyone non-muslim (thanks, Catholic Church!). There will be more time needed for the un-enlightened Moslems in that part of the world to 'assimilate' with the rest of the world's free society. It's going to take a couple generations to get there, but they will. Bigotry in the U.S. still exists, though it's far less than what it was in the 1960's. The older racist generations are dying out, getting replaced with more tolerant and educated people. The same will happen eventually in the Middle East. It'll just take time.
  • What are the implications of Google blocking the film? Probably not that great if it's already on one of the other kajillion-and-one media sharing sites or being personally hosted by anyone with a vested interest in riling up one side or the other.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter