Google has denied rumors that it entered into a deal with the Israeli government to assist it in the monitoring of YouTube videos inciting attacks on Israelis. Commenting on a meeting with one of the country’s lawmakers, the U.S. firm said it was a routine meeting.
Google denies any deal
In an earlier statement, the Israeli Foreign Ministry stated that in a meeting between Google executives and Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely last week, the two parties agreed to devise a mechanism to jointly monitor online activity that will include videos on YouTube that encourage attacks on Israelis.
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On Monday, Google denied making any such deal. According to a Google spokesperson’s statement to AFP, the meeting between Hotovely, Juniper Downs (Google’s senior counsel for public policy), and Susan Wojcicki (YouTube chief executive) was “one of many that we have with policymakers from different countries to explain our policies on controversial content, flagging, and removals.”
The spokesperson added that the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs had made corrections to its original announcement that erroneously suggested that it entered into an agreement with Google for a mechanism to monitor online materials.
Fighting violence together
Indeed, the Foreign Ministry did make updates to the statement on its website to reflect this. However, ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said the two entities will continue to work together to flag and remove dangerous online material.
“Our common objective is to remove dangerous incitement to violence on social media. We have full confidence in the Google teams dealing with this removal,” Nahshon said.
In the last two months, there have been several incidents of stabbing, shooting and car ramming attacks in which 100 Palestinians and 17 Israelis have lost their lives. The Israeli government has blamed online posts and videos as a cause for incitement.
In 2013, Google bought Israeli ride-sharing start-up Waze for $1 billion, and since then it has had a strong presence in Israel. Later, Waze and Google launched a match-making service – RideWith — for commuters in July. This service was launched with an intention of connecting drivers with passengers who have similar daily routes to and from work. The Israeli government already receives data from Waze as part of its Connected Citizens scheme.