YouTube has transformed how individuals access video content. Its intuitive programming leads an individual searching for one specific Adele song or performance to a dizzying variety of other Adele material — turning a quick search into a YouTube binge on all things Adele.
YouTube has also changed how individuals interact with less innocuous content as well. Take Anwar al-Awlaki, the notorious American cleric turned al-Qaeda propagandist. Because of his homicidal anti-American agenda, the Obama administration concluded that al-Awlaki’s words were too dangerous for al-Awlaki himself to live.
Yet it is just as easy to find al-Awlaki calls to jihad on a YouTube binge as it is to find the latest music videos. Al-Awlaki’s online presence continues to thrive due in part to the technology of American companies like YouTube, which is owned by Google.
If a curious individual searches for an al-Awlaki sermon online, YouTube will present a catalog of works that quickly leads from deceptively benign theological-based musings to calls for terrorist violence after only three or four videos. Unlike other YouTube experiences, this one lures viewers from non-violent material into the deepest crevices of al-Qaeda propaganda, unintentionally propelled by YouTube’s own algorithms.Read the rest of Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.H. Mark D. Wallace's op-ed HERE.
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