Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The YouTube Battlespace

On January 12, 2009, I noted an entry on the Google Public Policy blog today entitled 'Congress Comes to YouTube'. According to the blog,

As the 111th Congress kicks into gear, many Members of Congress are starting their own YouTube channels. They're posting videos direct from their Washington offices, as well as clips of floor speeches and committee hearings alongside additional behind-the-scenes footage from Capitol Hill. And in conjunction with both the House and Senate, today we're launching two new platforms that will help you access your Senator and Representatives' YouTube channels: The Senate Hub (youtube.com/senatehub) and The House Hub (youtube.com/househub).
The Google Public Policy blog concludes that Congress's YouTube presence has "the potential to make Congress more transparent and accessible than ever before."

I personally think this is a good move for Congress because it has the potential to engage and create a more politically active electorate. Frankly, Im somewhat surprised that it has take Congress this long to use online services like YouTube.

In a somewhat ironic twist, CBS News released a story on the same day reporting on a new YouTube channel launched by Hamas's military wing the Al Qassam Brigades. CBS News reports, "Seven videos have been added to the channel since its launch on December 31st, two days after the Israeli military set up a Youtube channel to show videos of IAF strikes on Gaza."

I discovered a YouTube channel maintained by the Al Qassam Brigades which appears to have been established on November 2, 2008 and currently hosts 29 videos here. Im not sure which channel CBS News is referring to, but its clear that Hamas and other Jihadists groups have leveraged the propaganda value of YouTube and other social media sites for a long time. In fact, in May 2008 Senator Joe Lieberman pressured Google to remove Jihadist propaganda hosted on YouTube.

We will discuss how terrorist use the Internet later in the semester, but I thought it would be good to get some exposure to this issue as early as possible. Questions that we will discuss include whether or not we should censor sites like YouTube, or if we should allows terrorist to continue to use these sites and turn their use of these sites against them by gathering as much intelligence as possible about the producers and consumers of terrorist propaganda.


ben b said...

Apparently either Nancy Pelosi, a member of her staff, or an otherwise unidentified operator with administrative access to her new Youtube channel saw fit to use this medium to perpetrate a "rickroll": http://briefingroom.thehill.com/2009/01/13/pelosi-and-her-cats-rickroll-the-capitol/

Ned said...

Leave it to Congress to think a joke that 'jumped the shark' last year is still funny and relevant.