Internet giants give platform to killers

DAYS after a vehicle-rammer knifeman stabbed to death a London bobby, it took a researcher on a Sunday newspaper less than a minute to find a website with detailed instructions on how to use a blade to penetrate a "stab-proof" vest.

Apparently, PC Keith Palmer, who was cold-bloodedly slain in the grounds of the Houses of Parliament last week, was wearing such a protective garment, since most uniformed British cops do nowadays and with good reason.

Not that I'm not concluding Islamic headbanger Khalid Masood - formerly popular Christian schoolboy Adrian Elms, aka Ajao - swotted up online about where best to plunge a kitchen knife available in most supermarkets into PC Palmer.

All that matters is that he could have learned the tactic at the click of a few computer keys.

Because that demands an answer to the shrieking question: how, in the names of common sense, decency and humanity is such lethal, provocative and inane drivel so easily accessible to any aspiring homicidal maniac?

But don't bother scratching for an answer.

It's simply a matter of money; the "wages of sin", you might say, pocketed by such cash cows as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Google-owned YouTube and similar internet giants, which regularly provide Web space for terrorists, political and religious extremists and certifiable crazies to air their repellent ideologies.

YouTube and its ilk employ ingenious algorithms, including ones designed to count the number of "clicks" websites attract, irrespective of whether they are peddling marmalade or mayhem. And the more visitor interest a site attracts, the more advertisers pay for plying their wares on it.

The problem with such "click-ometer" marketing is that advertisers don't necessarily know where their brands appear.

Many would be appalled at knowing their products and services are published on horrific or obscene websites, posted by the likes of Islamo-fascist jihadis, neo-Nazis hate peddlers, porn brokers and paedophile groupies.

Moreover, the advertisers would be further enraged if they realised many operators of these odious domains actually share in the social media platform's profits.

For instance, notorious Egyptian cleric and vicious antisemite, Wagdi Ghoneim - banned from the UK since 2009 because of government fears he is "seeking to foment, justify or glory terrorist violence" - is estimated to have netted 63,500 in ad revenues after his YouTube videos clicked up 31 million hits, according to Influencer Marketing Hub.

Ironically, ads that featured alongside Ghoneim's loathsome rantings included ones for those UK taxpayer-owned media enterprises and paragons of left-wing virtue, the BBC and Channel Four, plus The Guardian.

Likewise, David Duke, the American Jew-baiter and former Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard is a beneficiary of YouTube's largesse and reckoned to have scooped 27,250 from spouting racism.

Clearly, there's filthy lucre for Google to make from outrageous extremists, relegating their noble corporate motto of "Don't be evil" to a sick joke.

What's rich - figuratively speaking - is that the Internet search engine's hierarchy hasn't been exactly contrite over where its profits are generated, Ronan Harris, managing director of Google UK, lamely insisting: "We believe strongly in the freedom of speech and expression on the Web, even when that means we don't agree with the views expressed."

Mr Harris should be strongly disabused of this crass naivety.

Quite properly, democratic, liberal nations have laws curbing extremist propaganda and incitement to violence, however it's peddled. And Internet platforms should be treated no differently from mainstream media or a lunatic screaming racist abuse through a loud-hailer.

The dilemma facing governments, then - at least ones that give a damn about human rights - is how to police the Web.

The solution, however, may lie not with politicians but with advertisers, many of whom are now blackballing Google/YouTube or, at least, ensuring their ads don't appear on the proliferation of sites laced with race-hate and DIY manuals in how to deal out death. Ditto shareholders.

And such proactivity is having an impact because Google knows it can't afford to bite the hands that feed it, so is upping its game to filter out venomous hogwash.

Therefore the more companies that follow the lead of AT&T, Verizon, Pepsi, Walmart, Johnson & Johnson and car renter Enterprise, who have pulled adverts from Google's video-sharing platform, the quicker it will be that all Internet operators purge their sites of material that is manifestly offensive.

However, this doesn't address a further scab festering in the world of trendy gizmos . . . that of companies like Apple and WhatsApp, which are resisting pleas to aid crimebusters investigating terror atrocities.

Like Google's hypocritical mission statement "Don't be evil", WhatsApp contends that protecting its users' private communication is one of its "core beliefs".

Evidently, safeguarding the public at large is not.


© 2017 Jewish Telegraph