YouTube under fire (again): New AI runs amok and deletes war crimes evidence


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A new artificial intelligence program of YouTube has been thrust into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The program monitors content that might be called extremist and flags it along with removing mass videos and blocking channels that are said to have documented Middle East war crimes.

Removal Of Videos Starts Days After Announcement Of YouTube AI Program

The Middle East Eye, Airwars, the monitoring organization and Bellingcat, the open source investigations site are among sites that have had videos taken down as they are said to have breached the community guidelines of YouTube. Removals of videos began just days after Google, the owner of YouTube, revealed the arrival of artificial intelligence in a program that they said could spot and flag extremist video and it did not human involvement.

Since then many tracts of footage, including some evidence that had been used in the Chelsea Manning court case, along with videos capturing and documenting destruction by the Islamic State of ancient artifacts, were flagged as being extremist and they were deleted from archives.

An opposition news site from Syria, Orient News, which was set up in 2008, seems to have had their YouTube account removed. Airwars brought up the issue on YouTube when many videos, which mostly showed air strikes, had been taken down as they were said to have violated the guidelines of YouTube. Airwars, later on, said that videos had been checked over and then they were restored, however, they had been given a classification of 18+.

Bellingcat also made complaints that were similar, and Middle East Eye also fell foul and had some videos removed. Some of them were later restored after being given an age restriction rating and some remained deleted.

Video Content Showing Suicide Car Attack And More Deleted

YouTube said that Islamic State drone footage that showed a suicide car attack on the forces of Iraq inside Mosul had been removed and been given a strike from the Community Guidelines or the account had been given a temporary penalty.

The same happened with a video that appeared to show soldiers in Egypt undertaking extra-judicial killing. The MEE account appealed and YouTube said that after they have further reviewed the content they found that it violates the community guidelines.

Another video that was said to have shown the destruction of Nimrud by IS was also removed and appeals to have it reinstated were rejected. A video which showed al-Qaeda was taken down, even though it had been evidence in the trial of Manning.

YouTube has been faced with criticism that is mounting, about videos that show extremist content from such as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, along with videos from far-right organizations. The site revealed that they would increase artificial intelligence for reviewing videos and monitoring content. Just last week they said that they had started to develop and use machine learning technology that was cutting edge to help them find and remove content that showed violent extremism along with content that was related to terrorism.

YouTube Says AI System Is Improved, Picking Up 75% Of Extremism Content

YouTube went on to say that the system had improved dramatically thanks to machine learning technology but the tools still were not perfect. However, they have proven to be more accurate than human beings. 75% of content had been removed for showing extremism that was considered to be violent in the past month before they received a flag from a human. Google said that their engineers had come up with technology that would prevent re-uploading the same material.

Any YouTube account faces a three strike and you are out policy if the content is flagged as being in violation of the Community Guidelines. Many accounts that had related to the civil war in Syria had been removed. Some contained videos that showed graphic images, while other had the focus of interviews and politics.

There has also been some controversy about adverts that have been placed next to content that is inappropriate; this had included videos of Islamic preachers, Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. The Times newspaper in the UK made an investigation and revealed that government adverts funded by taxpayers and adverts from well-known retail companies had been appearing alongside content that was said to be extremist.


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