London mayor Sadiq Khan has urged YouTube to step up efforts to remove extremist content after it refused to take down four violent videos, flagged by concerned police, showing gang members threatening rivals and describing killing methods.
The videos have garnered 356,000 views in total, and despite YouTube‘s terms saying the tech giant takes “threats, harassment, intimidation [and] inciting others to commit violent acts” seriously, the site has not removed the clips.
The content in question reportedly shows gang members waving a large Rambo-style knife as they attempt to goad rivals, as rap music plays in the background.
According to the mayor’s office, the Metropolitan Police provided the website with “detailed context”, but YouTube told them the videos did not breach its guidelines.
Mr Khan warned social media sites to remove violent content that glorifies knife crime, saying their current policies “do not go far enough”.
He said: “Google, YouTube and other platforms have a responsibility to the millions of young people using their sites every day, and it is vital that they toughen up their guidelines, remove breaches immediately and work with partners to help ensure such horrific videos do not reappear. Lives could depend on it.”
Gun crime in London increased by 42 per cent between 2014/15 and 2015/16, and knife crime by 24 per cent.
“Social media and the internet can be used to inflame tensions and escalate violence quicker than ever before, and these videos are a shocking example of the glamorisation of gang culture,” the mayor said.
Similar violent videos have previously been used in successful prosecutions, and helped convict four men of the murder of 18-year-old Marcel Addai in September 2015.
However, the chief executive of Safer London, a charity working to prevent gang violence, said the videos were “highly dangerous” and pose a “significant risk to those who appear in them”.
Claire Hubberstey said: “Such content contributes to young people feeling unsafe and increases the likelihood of them arming themselves as a result.
“It is essential that large corporations identify their role in safeguarding young people and commit to strict guidelines around their online content to help reduce this risk.”
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