CREDIT: ERIN LUBIN/ BLOOMBERG
Social media companies have been accused of “commercial prostitution” and having “no shame” after being grilled by MPs over their failure to take down abusive content.
MPs condemned Google for not taking down a video by a former Ku Klux Klan leader which accused Jews of masterminding the genocide of white people because it did not breach its guidelines.
David Winnick, a Labour MP, accused three senior figures from twitter, Facebook and Google of “commercial prostitution” and asked them if they had “no shame”.
Yvette Cooper, the chairwoman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee told the three social media firms that they have a “terrible reputation” over their efforts to tackle abusive content.
And she expressed disbelief when Google’s vice-president said the recording posted by David Duke, a notorious Holocaust denier, did not “breach our guidelines”.
The recording, broadcast on YouTube, accuses “Zionists” of having “ethnically cleansed the Palestinians” and planning to do “the same thing to Europeans and Americans”.
Ms Cooper told Google’s Peter Barron: “You allow David Duke to upload an entire video which is all about malicious and hateful comments about Jewish people. How on earth is that not a breach of your own guidelines? I think most people would be appalled by that video and think it goes against all standards of public decency in this country.”
Ms Cooper revealed that two other videos had only been taken down by Google after her committee, which has begun an inquiry into hate crime on social media, protested.
One had been posted by National Action, a neo-Nazi group that celebrated the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox, which was banned as a terrorist organisation in December.
Ms Cooper told the three social media giants that she found none of their responses “particularly convincing”.
She said: “We understand the challenges you face … but you all have millions of users in the UK and you make billions of pounds from these users.
“You all have a terrible reputation among users for dealing swiftly with problems in content even against your own community standards.
“Surely when you manage to have such a good reputation with advertisers for targeting content and for doing all kinds of sophisticated things with your platforms, surely you should be able to do a better job in order to be able to keep your users safe online and deal with this kind of hate speech.”
She added: “Don’t you feel any sense of responsibility as a multi-billion pound organisation to at least check that you are not distributing material from proscribed organisations?”
Peter Barron, of Google, which runs YouTube, said: “We have 400 hours of video uploaded onto YouTube every minute which is an extraordinary amount of content.
“Clearly we don’t want illegal content on our platforms and when flagged to us we remove that as quickly as we possibly can.”
Four pages that were flagged to Facebook all remained on the site, including one titled “Ban Islam”.
Simon Milner, of Facebook, said the social media site spends a lot of time, effort and resource to tackling the problem.
“To suggest we are in some way negligent or not caring about this issue is simply not true,” he said.
Twitter suspended three accounts that were highlighted to it by MPs but one, which included a tweet with a hashtag “deport all Muslims”, remained.
Nick Pickles, from the microblogging site, said that while it was “highly offensive” the tweet did not breach its rules around hateful conduct.
He apologised that Ms Cooper had not yet received a response over tweets relating to German chancellor Angela Merkel and London Mayor Sadiq Khan that she had reported.[“Source-telegraph”]