YouTube is cracking down on extremist content — and researchers and journalists are getting caught in the crossfire.
Open-source researcher Eliot Higgins says he has had his old videos about Syria deleted and his account was suspended as the Google-owned video platform attempts to tackle material that supports terrorism.
Middle East Eye reports that Syrian opposition news site Orient News was also deleted, as was a video uploaded by one of the publication’s own journalists.
“YouTube has now suspended my account because of videos of Syria I uploaded 2-3 years ago. Nice anti-ISIS AI you’ve got there, YouTube,” Higgins tweeted on Saturday. “Ironically, by deleting years old opposition channels YouTube is doing more damage to Syrian history than ISIS could ever hope to achieve.”
A Google spokesperson did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
At the start of August, YouTube published a blog post discussing its new efforts to fight “terrorist content” on its platform, including “better detection and faster removal driven by machine learning.” It wrote that “the accuracy of our systems has improved dramatically due to our machine learning technology. While these tools aren’t perfect, and aren’t right for every setting, in many cases our systems have proven more accurate than humans at flagging videos that need to be removed.”
But Higgins (who has since been unsuspended) has been harshly critical of the efforts, tweeting: “So far YouTube’s attempts to remove ISIS and Jihadi content has proven to be a total flop, loads of false positives. YouTube’s new anti ISIS AI has also shut down multiple channels with years of videos from Syria, irreplaceable documentation of the conflict.”