In December 2022, the investigation of Caravan discovered dozens of Hindu nationalist YouTube channels broadcasting extremist content with views in the hundreds of millions. Senior BJP leaders were interviewed by some channels that “quickly surpassed the mainstream news channels in terms of their coverage”.

Amnesty International’s Patel says the proliferation is partly due to the growth of the platforms and the number of people now using them, “and partly because hate speech is condoned. If you make heroes out of people who abuse minorities and are violent, you will encourage more people to follow that path.”

Some nationalist and sectarian YouTubers have amassed massive followings, including Vikas Pathak, who had more than 800,000 subscribers on his Hindustani Bhau channel before he was suspended in 2020 after he posted a video threatening sexual assault YouTuber from Pakistan. A few days after the suspension, he managed to launch another channel, which has 83,000 subscribers. He also has 2.2 million followers on Instagram.

Prem Krishnavanshi, a YouTuber from Uttar Pradesh who has just over 87,000 subscribers, has built a career on pop songs aimed at followers of Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism. The lyrics of one of Krishnavansha’s songs, released in 2019, roughly translates to: “You are not people, you are butchers. Enough of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood.”

“The anti-Muslim online hate industry is thriving and companies are benefiting from it,” says Alishan Jaffrey, co-author Caravan the report

Malone, a spokesperson for YouTube, says the company removed more than 156,000 videos in the third quarter of 2022 for violating its hate speech policy.

“In addition to removing harmful content, we also use our recommendation system and monetization tools to foster a healthy ecosystem,” the statement said. “YouTube has always had clear community guidelines that define what is allowed on the platform, and we remove flagged videos and comments that violate our policies. These policies are global, meaning we apply them consistently to all creators on the platform, regardless of their background, political views, position or affiliation.”

Malone also says that creators can be penalized for abuse or violence that occurs outside of the platform.

As of February 28, Manesar’s YouTube channel was still active. After Khan’s death, he added about 7,000 followers.

India is YouTube’s largest market with 467 million users – almost double the number of the US.

Pratik Wagre, director of policy at the Internet Freedom Foundation, a digital rights group, says YouTube’s recommendation algorithms may be partly to blame for the spread of this sectarian content. “YouTube hasn’t been particularly open about its recommendation system,” he says. “But the algorithm usually prefers interaction. When you watch a certain type of content, it will search to provide a similar type of content.

Wagre says detecting hate speech is difficult in India, where people often switch languages. But, he says, social media companies tend to be slow to respond to warnings about potentially dangerous content. “Even inaction is a form of action,” he says. “Until it becomes a major PR crisis, they tend not to take action. Unfortunately, this is consistent behavior across platforms. These companies need to think about how they perceive their neutrality.”

But Wagre also says he suspects social media companies are nervous about going after nationalist figures in case a backlash threatens their business interests. “If you’re taking action against a popular right-wing figure, there’s a good chance you’re going to be targeted in one way or another,” he says.

Patel says an increase in violence is inevitable as hate speech continues to spread online and offline. “I am 53 years old,” he says. “I have not seen such constant tension in the country.”

Source by [author_name]

Previous articleEU narrows antitrust case against Apple over music streaming rules
Next articleFormer FTX engineering chief Nishad Singh pleaded guilty to criminal charges