Google has been condemned by an MP for refusing to ban a video by a former Ku Klux Klan leader called “Jewish People Admit Organising White Genocide”.
Yvette Cooper, the chairwoman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, expressed disbelief when the internet giant’s vice president said the recording – posted by Holocaust denier David Duke – did not “breach our guidelines”.
The 15-minute YouTube clip accuses “Zionists” of having “ethnically cleansed the Palestinians” and planning to do “the same thing to Europeans and Americans”.
Ms Cooper told Google’s Peter Barron: “You allow David Duke to upload an entire video which is all about malicious and hateful comments about Jewish people.
“How on earth is that not a breach of your own guidelines? I think most people would be appalled by that video and think it goes against all standards of public decency in this country.”
Opening the parliamentary inquiry into hate crime on social media, Ms Cooper revealed that two other videos had been taken down by Google – but only after her committee protested.
One had been posted by National Action, a neo-Nazi group that celebrated the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox, which was banned as a terrorist organisation in December.
“This is an organisation proscribed for terrorist links by the Government,” Ms Cooper pointed out.
“There aren’t that many proscribed organisations. Don’t you feel any responsibility, as multi-billion pound organisation, to check you are not distributing material from a proscribed organisation?”
But Mr Barron, Google’s vice-president for communications, said it relied on “notification and self-policing” to detect and investigate offensive content.
He defended Google’s record, which saw 200,000 videos flagged by viewers everyday of which 98 per cent were reviewed within 24 hours.
“We arrive on our community of more than one billion people around the world to flag videos,” Mr Barron said.
He admitted the Duke video was “anti-Semitic, deeply offensive and shocking”, but insisted: “It doesn’t meet the test for removing under our guidelines. We are in favour of free speech and access to information.”
The Home Affairs Committee also grilled Facebook and Twitter, as part of its inquiry into “hate crime and its consequences”.
Facebook came under fire after the BBC said it used the site’s ‘report button’ to flag up 100 photos on the website, but 82 were not removed - with an automated response saying they did not breach “community standards”.
The images included under-16s in sexualised poses, pages aimed at paedophiles and an image apparently taken from a child abuse video.
And Ms Cooper demanded to know why Twitter had not suspended an account which wanted to “deport all Muslims” – and displayed a “very disturbing graphic cartoon”.
But Nick Pickles, Twitter’s senior public policy manager, said the “context” of tweets was crucial - whether an image had been “targeted” at a particular person, or simply posted
“In this context, we reviewed that particular tweet and that particular image and we found it wasn’t in breach of our hateful content policy,” he said.
And he added: “We will never get to the point where there is nothing on the internet that offends anyone – and nor would we seek to get to that point.”
But Ms Cooper said her committee found it “baffling” that, in most circumstances, social media sites waited for people to complain before acting.
The internet giants were called in after Labour MP Diane Abbott revealed she had been been advised not to go out alone after suffering a torrent of racist abuse - and rape threats – online.