White House presses YouTube to investigate “Muhammad Movie” trailer

YouTube  previously stated that the video blamed for the protests in the Middle East this week does not violate its Community Guidelines. 


Chase Hoffberger


Published Sep 14, 2012   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 11:05 am CDT

The White House has asked YouTube to take a second look at the movie trailer that has been blamed for widespread protests this week in the Middle East.

In essence, the Obama administration believes the video—an amateurish, 13-minute trailer for a film that mocks the Prophet Muhammad—violates the video-sharing site’s Community Guidelines, which prohibits people from posting videos that promote hate speech—namely, in this case, speech that “attacks or demeans a group based on… religion.”

YouTube had previously stated that it would not remove the trailer from its site, telling FastCompany’s Addy Dugdale that the video does not violate those community guidelines.

“While we don’t comment on individual videos, what I can tell you is that on YouTube, people worldwide can express themselves by sharing videos in a safe and legal manner, and this sometimes raises cultural and political issues. We have created Community Guidelines to set a global standard for our users. We take great care when we enforce our policies and try to allow as much content as possible while ensuring that our Community Guidelines are followed. Flagged content that does not violate our Guidelines will remain on the site.”

The trailer, released in July by 52-year-old California real estate developer Sam Bacile, has been blamed en masse for the rash of violent protests that have spread throughout the Middle East region throughout the past week. On Wednesday, news broke that the riots had killed four people, including an American ambassador to Libya.

At the time, YouTube had not made any efforts to remove the video, though both Afghanistan and Pakistan blocked the site to prevent the video from spreading. (YouTube has since made the video unaccessible for those living in Egypt and Libya.)

Today, spokesman Tommy Vietor announced that the White House has “reached out to YouTube to call the video to their attention and ask them to review whether it violates their terms of use.”

YouTube did not respond to a Daily Dot request for comment, but the video remains on site—for now.

Photo via YouTube

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*First Published: Sep 14, 2012, 4:02 pm CDT