Google’s Counter-Narrative Program Falls Far Short of Combating Awlaki Material on YouTube

(New York, NY) – The continued presence of lectures by radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki on YouTube contradicts Google’s stated commitment to counteract the dangerous role played by extremist and terrorist content on its video-sharing platform, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) said today.

In Anwar al-Awlaki: Tracking Google’s Counter-Narrative Program, CEP examines Google’s February 2016 pledge to divert users away from radicalizing and extremist content towards anti-radicalization material by getting the “bad stuff” down and making counter-narrative material “more discoverable” in searches.

CEP found that the “bad stuff”—including lectures by Awlaki—have been consistently and even increasingly available on YouTube. On December 19, 2015, a search for “Anwar al-Awlaki” on YouTube yielded 61,900 results. On August 30, 2017, the number had risen to 70,100. As CEP research shows, Awlaki—the first U.S. citizen targeted by a U.S. drone strike (September 30, 2011)—has been found to play an influencing role in dozens of U.S. and European terrorism-related cases.

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