After many days of external pressure from the public, YouTube has banned the channel of Atomwaffen, a neo-nazi group which is bound to multiple killings. According to the report reaching us from our sources, Atomwaffen’s primary channel as well as their backup channel on YouTube have been banned for “multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy prohibiting hate speech.” According to the report which we got, YouTube plans to keep the videos online in a bid to demonetize them and adding a warning about offensive content.
Atomwaffen was the subject of a recent in-depth report which was trending on the internet and received chat logs praising a member for killing a gay, Jewish college student Blaze Bernstein. When looked at closely, Atomwaffen is linked directly or indirectly to at least five murders, and one member is sentenced to five years in prison for accumulating and keeping a reserve of bomb-making material. A former member told one of our sources that the group had recruited around 80 individuals across 23 states.
Further reports on the matter state that the YouTube channel featured armed members yelling a slogan that called for killing the Jew. A spokesperson stated that limiting the videos’ reach struck a “good balance” between providing for free expression and enforcing the hate speech rules of the site, which ban promoting violence towards or “inciting hatred” against particular races or religious groups. YouTube announced its plans last year for reducing to the barest minimum the reach of videos that didn’t meet its definition of hate speech, but in regards to its indecision over Atomwaffen shows, it is somewhat of a muzzy line to draw.
The chat client Discord also banned Atomwaffen recently, along with other white supremacist groups. A representative of Discord told one of our sources that, “Discord has a Terms of Service (ToS) and Community Guidelines that we ask all of our communities and users to adhere. These specifically prohibit harassment, threatening messages, or calls to violence.” Though it is unclear when exactly Discord removed the groups, our source noted that users began griping about the purge on Reddit this week.
Southern Poverty Law Center researcher Keegan Hankes told ProPulica:
“We haven’t seen anything like Atomwaffen in quite a while. They should be taken seriously because they’re so extreme.”
The fact that YouTube failed to act on Atomwaffen suggests that maybe the video-sharing service takes violations lightly until it is faced with bad press.