YouTube’s Ongoing Failure to Remove ISIS Content

In an effort to better understand ISIS content on YouTube, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) conducted a limited study on the video sharing platform and identified more than 1,300 ISIS videos uploaded to YouTube over a period of three months, garnering at least 163,000 views. The purpose of this research was to understand how ISIS content is being uploaded to YouTube, how long it is staying online, and how many views these videos receive.

No less than 1,348 ISIS videos were found to have been uploaded, using a narrow set of 229 previously -identified ISIS terror-related videos. These videos earned a total of over 163,000 views of this small set of terror content. Sixty percent of those accounts remained live after uploaded videos were removed for content violations.

These figures call into question YouTube’s claims of proactive content removal efforts. The fact that a quarter of videos stayed online for more than two hours indicates YouTube’s human flagging efforts are failing.

The number of videos that are re-uploaded after already being removed illustrates that YouTube is not appropriately deploying hashing technology that can flag duplicate content. Ultimately, the high number of views on this limited set of videos suggests YouTube is still an important site for ISIS’s propaganda efforts.

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