U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman on Monday said Google is not thorough enough in removing YouTube videos that he says are used by al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations to spread propaganda and recruit followers.
Lieberman, who chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, wrote to Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt to complain that YouTube is not enforcing its own guidelines against showing graphic and gratuitous violence.
YouTube Videos produced by al-Qaida "show attacks on U.S. forces in which American soldiers are injured and, in some cases, killed," Lieberman's letter said.
A Google spokesman said the company has removed about 80 videos that violated YouTube's restrictions on gratuitous violence and hate speech following discussions with the senator's staff last week.
The spokesman said it's difficult to prescreen the hundreds of thousands of videos uploaded to YouTube every day. Instead, the site relies on users to police objectionable material — simply by pressing a "Flag" button located under a video — which is then reviewed by the company.
"There's nothing in our guidelines that says something produced by a certain group gets censored," the spokesman said.
Lieberman's committee recently released a report that said the United States must develop a communications plan to counter radical Islamic messages on the Internet used to recruit new followers, provide weapons training, show speeches by terrorist leaders and for other purposes. The report said such messages could potentially create "homegrown terrorists."
Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, said YouTube searches returned dozens of videos branded with an icon or logo of al-Qaida or its allied groups.
He added that YouTube can easily remove the videos since they are branded. He also asked in the letter to Google what changes it plans to make in its guidelines to address "violent extremist material" and how it will enforce them to prevent the content from reappearing.