Google admits to making a mistake with YouTube rape video

Google yesterday resisted calls to screen videos before they were displayed on video sharing site, YouTube.

The company has been under fire since the beginning of March when it was reported that a video on the site showing a woman being raped in front of her children had been viewed 600 times before being removed.

The 25 year old mother of two was drugged and raped in her home with her children audibly crying in the background. The act (allegedly carried out by three teenage boys aged 14-16) was filmed on a mobile phone and then posted on YouTube where it remained long enough to be played 600 times.

According to the TimesOnline, the London woman claims the boys involved had help from two girls and a neighbour.

She told the South London Press that because the children had come to her door with a neighbour she trusted she had no problem inviting them into her home.

The 25 year old claims she opened a bottle of champagne “to be social” but soon after her first glass began to feel strange.

Giving evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport committee, which is investigating the dangers the internet poses to children, Kent Walker, general counsel for Google (which owns YouTube) admitted yesterday that it had made “a mistake” by not removing the video faster but at the same time stated that a large amount of material was monitored by YouTube. Furthermore most offensive material was taken down within a half hour of posting and the majority within an hour.

In response to requests that all content be screened before posting Walker said that it would go against the spirit of the internet to require all videos to be screened.

Walker was subsequently slammed by MPs and his evidence branded “incredible” when he said he was unable to disclose how many staff YouTube employed to screen videos.

"Do you know how absurd you are sounding ?" asked Paul Farrelly, Labour MP with Adam Price, the Plaid Cymru MP for Carmathen East and Dinefwr, saying, "It surely shows your system is completely inadequate."

YouTube provides surfers with millions of videos available at the touch of a button and more and more are being uploaded to the site at an alarming rate.

Like most websites, YouTube has policies regarding the type of content you are allowed to contribute to the site but these are set out in a rule-book fashion ; at the end of the day it’s up to whomever is uploading the video to adhere to the terms and conditions laid out by the site. Users can of course flag videos they feel are offensive, however, most people (particularly in light of last month’s press coverage) feel that this isn’t enough.

Having said that, with 10 hours of fresh film hitting YouTube every minute it’s not a stretch to say that monitoring all of the content on the site would be near impossible. Hiring enough people to moderate such a high volume of content would be an astronomical expense and while efficient it would almost certainly not be cost effective.

The question an awful lot of people are asking is whether or not the freedom of the internet would be restricted by a more secure monitoring system on sites like YouTube.

Many believe that as a company, YouTube is responsible for the content that appears on site. What the masses cannot seem to agree on is what should be done about the situation. Should Google begin recruiting scores of college students, paid to sit and watch video after video or should they simply continue as normal, trawling through a considerable amount of the content with only a handful of videos slipping through YouTube’s fingers ?

One thing everyone seems to agree on is that it should not be up to users to flag a video of a semi-conscious young woman being gang raped within earshot of her two small children as inappropriate.

Read the full story on the TimesOnline.

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  • spuddyt
    come on.... 600 people? there must be that many more people going on and off youtube during one minute!
  • Anonymous
    This is similar to what record companies are asking ISP's to do. People have to made accountable for there actions. Service providers can only do so much to prevent illeagal and moral things from happening. You Tube can not be excpected to screen every single video submited to the site. Like in the real world things happen in the virtual world that are beyond our "reasonable" control!