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Is Google’s Online Censorship Methodology Fair and Flawless?

Online censorship has always been a debatable subject and the way companies like Google approach online censorship has been under constant scrutiny. While there is a protocol that Google has to deal with cases pertaining to online censorship, the whole process is not transparent. We are not aware of what happens behind the closed doors and only the verdict about a particular link is banned or not will be made public. Most people do not find this acceptable, especially the ones who are put under loss by this censorship. The reason why this issue has surfaced again is due to a video that has hurt the sentiments of the Muslim community of the world.

Why Was The Video Censored?

This video was titled ‘The Innocence Of Muslims’ and was filmed by a person who deliberately wanted to hurt the feelings of the Muslim community. The video contains content that makes fun of the Muslim way of life and other aspects of the religion in a vulgar way. The video went viral within hours of it being released and recorded a very high number of hits before people started raising their voices about its content and how it is hurting the emotions of people. There were a lot of abuse reports on YouTube (which is a property of Google) and after a few days, Google put up a disclaimer saying that the video was removed due to a court order.

Was There A Real Court Order?

Reliable sources from within Google state that the company buckled under the sheer pressure of powerful people and removed the video and there was no court order. There have also been reports of how the US government was worried that this video can cause mass hysteria and violent public protests and thus, instructed the site to plan the video.

Although this video deserved to be taken down, this raises a question about how online censorship is exactly carried out. The fact that the US government can make a multinational company such as Google censor its contents mean that the government can do this in the future also. For example, if there is a serious protest against the government that is held and if the protestors want to use YouTube as their platform for expression, there will be a risk of the government banning it stating the name of national security.

Curtailing The Freedom of Expression

The constitutions of all democratic nations have a section that speaks about the citizens’ right to the freedom of expressing themselves. This means that a citizen can express anything that they feel if it is not abusive, insensitive, inappropriate, or something that is against the society. But the current day’s online censorship procedure practically ridicules these rights. There have been instances of Google blocking sites offering worry free torrents just on the basis of suspicion. So, if the government feels that an activity or a site or a protest is suspected to be a threat to national security also, they can order Google to block everything about the subject, thus denying the citizens their right to freedom of expression.

What Are The Consequences?

The internet is one of the most widely used platforms of modern day and Google practically rules the search engine world. If Google has the power to indiscriminately censor topics, then they can virtually control the success or failure of an event. The event can be social, political, or of any other type. This might have some grave consequences, if not presently, at least in the foreseeable future. We will have no hold on our protests and rallies for our rights and demands. It is high time that someone took this matter seriously and demand an overhaul in the system to ensure that all rights are protected.

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