YouTube videos target Muslims and women in India, study finds | India News

According to a report by the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, influencers supporting India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party have used YouTube videos to spread conspiracy theories and hateful content targeting Muslims and women in the biggest market of the platform by user base.
The NYU Stern Center report highlighted India’s case for pressing Alphabet Inc.’s Google-owned video platform to review its recommendations to boost content moderation and disclose information about how algorithms recommend and remove content.
India has over 450 million YouTube users, nearly double the platform’s US base. The videos have helped fuel a conspiracy theory that Muslims are spreading Covid as a form of ‘jihad’, or holy war, according to the report, ‘A ‘Weaponized’ Platform: How YouTube Spreads Harmful Content – ​​and What can we do to fix it? ”
The report also cites examples of rivalry between street vendors turning violent after a YouTube video campaign that targeted Muslims as well as anti-Muslim rhetoric often intermingling with online attacks on women.
“A series of misogynistic rants from Indian nationalist YouTube influencers made these invectives popular on the platform,” the report said. “The rants, many of which include physical threats, are often released as selfie videos.”
A YouTube spokesperson said the recommendations detailed in the report are priorities for the platform, although greater algorithmic transparency makes it harder to protect its systems.
“We are working to provide ongoing information on how recommendations work, through blog posts, videos, interviews and more,” the spokesperson said.
Requests for comment from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and India’s Home Ministry also went unanswered.
Escalation of hostility
With over 1.3 billion people and growing internet usage, India is an important and profitable jurisdiction for social media companies. However, popular support for Modi’s BJP Hindu nationalist agenda puts big tech companies in a difficult position when it comes to balancing free speech with restrictions on hateful content.
While the report noted that religious divisions existed in India long before YouTube entered the scene, “the widespread use of social media has intensified hostility.”
The report comes amid an ongoing controversy in India where two former BJP officials have made derogatory remarks against Islam and the Prophet Muhammad on a news channel and on social media, dragging New Delhi into a grip diplomatic negotiations with several trading partners in the Middle East. It has also led to sporadic religious clashes in several parts of India.
Police have arrested a YouTuber from the insurgency-prone North Kashmir region for allegedly uploading a video showing the beheading of an effigy of one of the suspended officials, local media reported, reflecting the challenges of the fight against hate messages on the platform.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki said the platform faces a test of staying ahead of people creating misinformation and make sure she understands what they are. She said YouTube only missed about 10 to 12 content-violating videos per 100,000 video views on the platform, citing the company’s latest research.

Shirley K. Rosa