And now you know the rest of the story.
No actual surprises here. I’ve been telling people for a while that this is how it works. But this is the first direct insight from someone whose job it was to moderate this kind of thing coming forward and talking about how corrupted and broken the system really is.
Whistleblower Khaled Hassan started work at Crisp, a Leeds-based “digital risk intelligence” firm employed to moderate content for YouTube, in February 2021.
As an Egyptian-born Arabic speaker, his job was to identify hateful content in his native language and flag it to the video sharing giant to be removed.
YouTube, like a lot of big tech platforms, outsource moderation, especially of non-English content, to outside firms. Crisp, founded by Adam Hildreth, a local millionaire success story, is one of YouTube’s partners.
The problem with outsourcing moderating Islamic antisemitism to people who share those sentiments is obvious.
“I flagged some videos with the hate guys. They literally said ‘God curse the Jews’ and other brazenly antisemitic stuff,” Mr Hassan said.
But Mr Hassan was told that this did not apply to the videos he wanted to get YouTube to take down. His Crisp colleague wrote: “Unfortunately this stuff is not as clear cut as you think — particularly with hate speech.”
On 4 June, he complained about the failure to flag a video that featured a speaker praising Al Qassem [the Hamas armed wing] because it “terrorises Jews.” He was told by a colleague that this was “not violative” of YouTube’s policy. This was on the bizarre grounds that the word “Jews” is mentioned in the Quran, so the speaker was merely expressing religious views.
YouTube, which is quite happy to censor conservatives, also seemed quite resistant to taking down Islamic terrorists.
Mr Hassan’s concerns continued to mount. In August, YouTube failed to act on a report he wrote urging it to take down the channel of the Egyptian jihadist preacher Wagdy Ghoneim. As well as displaying flagrant antisemitism, Ghoneim said that those who had “collaborated” with NATO forces in Afghanistan deserved to be “punished” by the Taliban. The video was posted at a time when many who had helped the West were being shot.
Mr Hassan is heard asking one YouTube staffer why they had not removed a video he had flagged glorifying Baha Abu al-Ata, a Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader killed in 2019, who launched hundreds of missile attacks on Israel.
This, the YouTube official admitted, was a “grey area”; on the one hand, Islamic Jihad was a proscribed organisation, but on the other, al-Ata was not on YouTube’s list of 29 individual terrorists who were banned. There was therefore “no violation”, he said.
Mr Hassan asked YouTube why the jihadist Wagdy Ghoneim’s videos were still online, despite the fact that in 2017, the firm had to apologise for letting him “monetise” his hate-filled content by running adverts. Again, Khaled was told: “He is not a listed individual.”
The YouTube official conceded that Ghoneim “does talk about jihad”. However, he added: “[He] doesn’t say attack this place at this time or this person, so it doesn’t violate our policy overall”. Therefore, the videos were something “we will keep up”.
Mr Hassan pointed out that Ghoneim was wanted on terror charges in America and banned from entering Britain. The YouTube official shrugged. “Yeah, it’s really tricky with this guy,” he said.
But if you question global warming or the 2020 election, down you go.