YouTube, Yahoo Censor Human Rights Blogger

November 30, 2007

Human Rights Activist Wael AbbasAward-winning human rights blogger Wael Abbas, 33, of Cairo, Egypt has been silenced by both YouTube and Yahoo, causing a global outcry from human rights activists. Abbas, who won the 2007 Knight International Journalism Award for his efforts to raise standards of journalistic excellence in Egypt, has blogged at Misr Digital, or Egyptian Awareness, since 2004, covering human rights issues and supporting freedom of speech in ways not addressed by traditional Egyptian media. The Cairo resident often posts cell phone videos about torture, sexual harassment, police brutality, sit-ins, strikes and demonstrations in Egypt, which are often sent to him anonymously by people too afraid to speak out otherwise. The video which led to the YouTube and Yahoo take-down showed a police officer sodomizing an Egyptian bus driver with a stick. It helped convict two police officers of brutality — a rare occurrence in Egypt.

The video is supposedly available at Faux News , but we can’t get it to work. If anyone can provide us with a working link, we’ll be happy to provide it to our readers.

Abbas’s YouTube account was suspended and his entire archive of videos — which were not backed up and represented years of work — were removed. His two Yahoo e’mail accounts were closed, allegedly for spamming.

Police Captain Islam Nabih, Following His Police Brutality Conviction Which Was Based in Part on Abbas Video Pulled from YouTubeThe writer, who has one of the most popular blogs in Egypt, told Fox News: “This is part of a campaign or a war — an electronic war — against me…I think this is a new technique that the government is using, which is complaining about the content of some Web sites or some e-mail addresses, in order to disable them — and disable their owners — from what they are doing…What is important to me is to have these videos available online for anybody because the anti-torture campaign in Egypt hasn’t stopped. There are people being killed in police stations everyday; elections continue to be rigged; there will be interference from the police inside the Egyptian university…So these videos are necessary to keep the world informed of what kind of ‘democracy’ that we have in Egypt and what kind of charade that we have here.”

While Yahoo refused to comment on the cancellation of Abbas’ e’mail account, YouTube told Fox: “In terms of content that might highlight human rights abuses, of course we support users putting educational, historic, philosophical or documentary footage on the site — even when this may involve acts of violence…However, the graphic nature of the content needs to be put in context so that users can easily understand what they are watching.” What a bunch of malarkey; viewers understood exactly what they were seeing. There’s no need to “dumb down” the news.

In a different permutation, YouTube told CNN: “YouTube prohibits inappropriate content on the site, and our community effectively polices the site for inappropriate material. . .Users can flag content that they feel is inappropriate and, once it is flagged, it is reviewed by our staff and removed from the system within minutes if it violates our Community Guidelines or Terms of Use. We also disable the accounts of repeat offenders.”

Abbas, who says he’s in a “state of shock” over the incident, questioned YouTube’s commitment to online reporting, saying: “We thought that YouTube was our ally. It helped show the truth in countries like Burma. . .With what they did now, it doesn’t seem like that anymore.” YouTube is owned by Google.

Read more news about a journalist who tried to do the right thing.

Photo credits: Axel Krause

Copyright © 2007

« Previous Page