back to article Google pulls Hezbollah YouTube channel after we told them about the drone ads

Until just minutes before we hit publish on this story, Google was using a YouTube channel run by a fan of Hezbollah to promote potentially lethal drones. Despite a backlash from advertisers, Amazon, Adobe and Google were among the tech titans advertising on the now-shuttered "Party of Allah"* YouTube channel – which we …

  1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    I have a fix

    Have YouTube replace all potentially offensive channels with videos of kittens.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: I have a fix

      Or Gumbys.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      Re: I have a fix

      That's fine unless you suffer from Ailurophobia...

    3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: I have a fix

      i'm okay with that but at least some of the channels should show "the Sands of Mars" and some should play loud opera music.

      Also, I sense an unusual amount of fear in this article for a simple trade dispute.

    4. TheVogon

      Re: I have a fix

      I seem to remember that the colonies have sort of issue with pussies...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I have a fix

        ..but don't seem to feel the same way about fannies.

  2. wolfetone Silver badge

    Aren't the adverts served up depending on what websites you've visited and what you've searched for on Google?

    It's just that I'm fairly sure I could get a Durex condom advert before watching a Hezbollah video. Not to mention the Love Honey adverts, Saint Agur cheese, Build-a-Bear Workshop etc.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      You have a very bizarre sex life...

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Don't knock it until you've tried it

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "You have a very bizarre sex life..."

        Yeah, he didn't even mention the chafing dish. Can't do sex right without the chafing dish!

    2. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Does it work both ways? Can the "ISIS Death to the Infidels" channel block ads for bacon and Girls Gone Wild from running during their videos?

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      "Aren't the adverts served up depending on what websites you've visited and what you've searched for on Google?"

      I wonder what would happen if 1000's of people visited this site and then immediately went to that channel? Would Google make assumptions based on "most site visitors are also interested in..."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        " wonder what would happen if 1000's of people visited this site and then immediately went to that channel?

        That site always brings a smile into my day, because it reminds me of a certain lady I knew way back when.

        She reckoned the guy was a complete dog.

  3. Matt 70

    I'd be more worried that they seem to be running adverts for potentially fake drones rather than where the ads are actually run.

    1. Haku

      Since I got into quadcopters at the end of 2015 a few people I'd talked to about the hobby had eagerly told me about the amazing follow-me drone which was waterproof and was perfect for selfie videos whilst doing sports - they'd watched the slick, but fake, Lily drone promotional video and believed everything it showed them, which was actually filmed with GoPros on a DJI drone because the Lily was still in development.

      Could Kudrone be the new Lily drone?

  4. Haku
    Facepalm

    Well done El Reg.

    I'm sure the fact that a toy drone advert was showing on a terrorist group's YouTube channel was the reeason the channel was pulled.

  5. Andy 73

    Seriously?

    Terrorists also use mobile phones. Let's ban advertising for mobile phones!!

    If a channel is hateful or offensive, then fair enough, let's make sure it's taken down under Google's guidelines. Banging on about what is advertised on that channel is the sort of hysterical nonsense that the Daily Mail would normally be proud of.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Seriously?

      Good point - at least one country in the middle east has used cell phones to kill people for years.

      1. TheVogon

        Re: Seriously?

        Extrajudicial killings?! Surely not. That would be the sort of thing only a terrorist state would do. And there are not many of those in the Middle East...

    2. Mage Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Seriously?

      The problem is NOT the advertising of Drones on Extremist Channels. It's not freedom of speech to allow propaganda, lies, promotion of hate crimes and terrorism and to make money from it.

      Google's "guidelines" are pretty opaque and useless. What about the laws of media providers in the countries that YouTube is available. Google / YouTube should face same regulation as NBC in USA, France1 in France, BBC/ITV in UK, ARD in Germany, etc.

      Being on the "Internet" and crowd sourced should not mean lower or no standards, or special exemption. If anything it should be to a higher ethical standard. Google has heard of ethics but is uninterested in changing anything that affects profit. They are mostly an ADVERTISING / Media company, not a magical tech company advancing the human race. Facebook is far worse, because at least Google has useful services.

      1. TheVogon

        Re: Seriously?

        "It's not freedom of speech to allow propaganda, lies, promotion of hate crimes and terrorism and to make money from it."

        Yes it is. Who decides what are "lies" and "propaganda"? The government? Just look at what Trump has to say on "alternative facts"....

        Freedom of speech is freedom of speech. As soon as you start to put boundaries on it, you no longer have it...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Seriously?

          Yes it is. Who decides what are "lies" and "propaganda"? The government? Just look at what Trump has to say on "alternative facts"....

          Freedom of speech is freedom of speech. As soon as you start to put boundaries on it, you no longer have it...

          I guess you're suggesting we should do away with the Press Complaints Comission, the Advertising Standards Authority, the offence of libel, and so forth? Because clearly, in your mind, there is no public interest in being able to discern fact from fiction, and these things are pointless.

          Truth is not actually a subjective concept, and while there are of course cases where it is difficult to separate truth from falsehood, it is absolutely not beyond the wit of man to make a decent effort at doing so most of the time. There are plenty of areas where we do that quite well, in civilised countries at least.

          It does, of course, require that society as a whole wants that effort to be made, and as far as the USA is concerned, perhaps that is indeed open to question, since they seem to have elected a compulsive liar as president. But who understands Americans anyway?

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: Seriously?

            But who understands Americans anyway?

            Good point. I'm American and I don't understand some of the crap we do. Or elect to office.

          2. TheVogon

            Re: Seriously?

            You are confusing censorship and preventing free speech with the fact that using a right to free speech in some ways can have consequences....

            Free speech means that you can always publish and a court or other such body decides later if there was a problem. If you censor the publishing in the first place, that's not free speech...

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Seriously?

          "Freedom of speech is freedom of speech. As soon as you start to put boundaries on it, you no longer have it..."

          The first libel laws were introduced in the 13th century as a means of reducing the large numbers of deaths and maimings due to duelling. Limiting "free" speech has a long tradition and I'm sure I don't need to reiterate the many limits on "free speech", not only in the UK but even in the Land of the "Free"

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Seriously?

            "The first libel laws were introduced in the 13th century"

            My apologies to the two down voters. It was the 12th century, not the 13th century.

  6. ratfox
    Meh

    "Potentially lethal drones."

    Really? A potentially lethal 100-grams drone? This article belongs on the Grauniad. Just add that it can be used to spy on children, and they'll buy it.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: "Potentially lethal drones."

      Come one, everyone knows that spying on children is the Daily Mail's speciality.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A drone ad on a terrorist channel makes perfect sense

    Perfect sense to Google's algorithms, that is. The words "terrorist" and "drone" are often found in the same web sites / articles (i.e. with titles like "drone strike kills four militants" or "experts concerned that terrorists will attack airports with drones") so the algorithm will think that as the two often go together drones would be a good targeted ad!

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: A drone ad on a terrorist channel makes perfect sense

      Unfortunate use of the word 'targeted' there...

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: A drone ad on a terrorist channel makes perfect sense

      Well, so much for "AI".

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: A drone ad on a terrorist channel makes perfect sense

        Well, so much for "AI".

        Intelligence doesn't necessarily imply morals.

        However, I don't think we've seen AI yet anyway, just marketing people touting some relatively clever (for some value of clever) algorithms.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The journalist needs to do some research

    Hezbollah has proper Iran made drones. Military spec, with the ability to be used as a loitering munition and carry a bomb payload. They are quite an interesting design by the way - significantly lower operator qualification requirement to operate than the other country drones because they use a wing config which is a no-stall. It will dip nose if the lunatic in charge stalls it and recover itself. IMHo credit, where credit due we should copy the iranian design and chuck the Thales/BAE crap designs out of the window.

    It is not the only high tech toy it has gotten its mitts on. Out of all the developments in the Syria war the growing tech level of Hezzbollah is probably one of the most worrying.

    So it actually does not need consumer crap.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: The commenter needs to do some thinking

      I have no doubt that Hezbollah does not need palm-sized nanodrones. It's the people who get their thrills watching Hezbollah videos who you might need to worry about.

      Then there's the small matter that funding Hezbollah gets you into some very serious shit with the authorities.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/12/world/middleeast/us-hits-hezbollah-with-new-sanctions.html

      I asked Google how much it had handed over already. Strangely, they don't want to tell us.

      1. Robin Bradshaw

        Re: The commenter needs to do some thinking

        Looking at the view count and using the earning figure* of $1.68 per 1000 views the video you screen captured has earned the Axis of Evil™ about $6.87 and with a massive 1641 subscribers they are quite lucky to even get that, perhaps they have a patreon because they really arent going to be funding anything more than the occasional Sandwich, packet of crisps and bottle of pop for lunch with that level of income.

        Perhaps a better angle would be how mind numbingly stupid it would be to attempt to fund your terror operation using youtube revenue given how hard it is to get eyeballs on your content and how little you get per 1000 views.

        *given by Dave Jones of eevblog here https://youtu.be/R8qdOAEQnps?t=5m9s

      2. Old Handle
        Mushroom

        Re: The commenter needs to do some thinking

        Oh fuck off. We have enough censors in the world without the register doing it too.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The commenter needs to do some thinking

          "Oh fuck off. We have enough censors in the world without the register doing it too."

          Huh? There's no such thing as a global censor. The closest there is is Facebook, though they're seemingly more interested in censoring pictures of nursing mothers than paedophilia, extremist content, etc. Google seemingly doesn't do even that kind of monitoring at all well on YouTube...

          There is national censorship in some countries - e.g. China, Russia, North Korea, Belarus, etc. Has no impact on anywhere else.

          The whole cause of this debate is that Google, Facebook and Twitter don't adequately self-censor, and clearly cannot rely on its users self-censoring either; they're being exploited by these criminal users. Claims of innocence, non-involvement and freedom-of-speech-neutrality on the part of the multi-billion dollar companies are only ever going to work for a finite period of time. Seems like the UK and Europe is beginning to call their bluff. Just because it's unimaginable in the US doesn't mean that it won't happen everywhere else.

          We shall have to see, but we may soon be seeing the companies ruing the day they hadn't got working self-censorship systems in place.

          None of this is really about government censorship. Far from it. It's more about government pointing out that the consequence of, say, Google's current business model being incompatible with a moral obligation to not profit from or associate with illegal and extremist material. Looks like some pretty big customers agree. That may move towards an attitude that perhaps existing laws covering the funding or promotion of terrorism might be applied to either Google directly or even their customers. That's still not changing or creating any new laws on censorship, which is quite clever and probably not something Google saw coming.

      3. patrickstar

        Re: The commenter needs to do some thinking

        You are aware that the current threat of terrorism in the West exclusively comes from sunni groups, i.e. al Qaeda, Daesh, et al. and that Hezbollah is shia?

        They are sworn enemies. In fact, the former typically refers to the latter as "Hezb Shaytan".

        Not saying that Hezbollah are good guys or anything. Just that with the timing - just after a terrorist attack attributed to a supporter of Daesh - the implication would be that the videos would be watched by people that are potentially about to go and do the same.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The commenter needs to do some thinking

          As patrickstar says, while Hizbollah are certainly controversial and rather unpalatable to the West and to much of the Sunni, Christian, and Jewish Middle East, it is a bit of a long shot to dump them in the same category as some of the other activist and/or criminal groups active in the area, which court the support of criminals in Europe.

          I have not seen the sort of content in that channel though, and Orlowski does not claim that it was run by or with the approval of Hizbollah.

          The reason I'm saying this is because there is a very thin line in some cases between criminal/terrorist/subversive and legitimate political speech. It might be wise not to overdo things.

  9. Paul Smith
    Flame

    FFS

    " to promote potentially lethal drones." Seriously?

    Do you object to the same ads appearing on other channels or was this just an opportunity to insert some political commentary into a publication that normally wouldn't touch it with a barge pole (and for good reason!)?

    Back to the point, Google was promoting those drones *at you*. Why don't you write an article about what it was in your browser history that made you Google think you would be interested in those toys? That at least would be slightly IT related?

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: Armed drones are already in use in the ME and Ukraine

      I would think they would do more damage to themselves with false starts trying to launch drone assisted grenades than damage to their victims

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Armed drones are already in use in the ME and Ukraine

        I would think they would do more damage to themselves with false starts trying to launch drone assisted grenades than damage to their victims

        You may be thinking more of 1980's Ulster paramilitaries like the UVF/UFF, who were notorious for shooting various parts of their own anatomies when trying to carry out attacks. Unfortunately, Hezbollah trainees seem less incompetent.

        Then again, as we sadly saw earlier this week, drones aren't required, an ordinary SUV will do as well.

  11. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Trollface

    Drones on YouTube becoming Shia terrorist, attacking civlians!

    For some reason, Philip K. Dick's "Return Match" about a sentient deadly pinball machine comes to mind.

    "The outspacers don't have a very high regard for human life," Tinbane reflected. He was thinking of the carnage created by the ship taking off. And that, for them, was routine. But in view of that wholesale destruction of human life, this seemed unnecessary. What more did this accomplish?

    Pondering, he said, "This is selective. This would eliminate only the gameplayer."

    The technician said, "This would eliminate every gameplayer. One after another."

    "But who would play the thing," Tinbane said, "after the first fatality?"

    "People go there knowing that if there's a raid the outspacers will burn up everyone and everything," the technician pointed out. "The urge to gamble is an addictive compulsion; a certain type of person gambles no matter what the risk is. You ever hear of Russian Roulette?"

    Tinbane released the second steel ball, watched it bounce and wander toward the replica village. This one managed to pass through the rough terrain; it approached the first house comprising the village proper. Maybe I'll get it, he thought savagely. Before it gets me. A strange, novel excitement filled him as he watched the ball thud against the tiny house, flatten the structure and roll on. The ball, although small to him, towered over every building, every structure, that made up the village.

    -- Every structure except the central catapult. He watched avidly as the ball moved dangerously close to the catapult, then, deflected by a major public building, rolled on and disappeared into the take-up slot. Immediately he sent the third ball hurtling up its channel.

    "The stakes," the technician said softly, "are high, aren't they? Your life against its. Must be exceptionally appealing to someone with the right kind of temperament."

    "I think," Tinbane said, "I can get the catapult before it's in action."

    "Maybe. Maybe not."

    "I'm getting the ball closer to it each time."

    The technician said, "For the catapult to work, it requires one of the steel balls; that's its load. You're making it increasingly likely that it'll acquire use of one of the balls. You're actually helping it." He added somberly, "In fact it can't function without you; the gameplayer is not only the enemy, he's also essential. Better quit, Tinbane. The thing is using you."

    "I'll quit," Tinbane said, "when I've gotten the catapult."

    "You're damn right you will. You'll be dead." He eyed Tinbane narrowly. "Possibly this is why the outspacers built it. To get back at us for our raids. This very likely is what it's for."

  12. JaitcH
    FAIL

    Don't Laugh Too Much, the Freedom Fighters have Pretty Good High Tech - Left by the USA

    just before my friend who works for a US contractor pulled out of Afghanistan, he visited the Kabul markets buying up 'rock radios' (MESH radios scattered around by US troops in the deserts) along with other US high tech surplus. He put all this stuff into the containers he used as workshops and the US military kindly shipped them, at no charge, to his home country.

    The Freedom Fighters have good quality technicians in their organisations - so likely they don't need any help of getting to use drones, of any size. They repair and refurbish much of this 'surplus' and repurpose it against the American troops.

  13. Mage Silver badge
    Devil

    no significant shift in the content it hosts

    I said this, Google only does PR.

    The Street view WiFi Slurp should have seen BILLONS in fines, instead now they do it via Android and US uses Google as justification to permit ISPs to sell your privacy.

    The so called "tools" are PR.

  14. freakshow231

    I wonder if it is realised that they are the ones preventing further disaster from spilling over and taking the Middle East entirely.

    Doing the jobs of what the West is afraid to do only by aerial strikes. And what they have all now u-turned in their policies since the start of this war.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    who brought the chips!

    cuz their aint no party like a Party of Allah because the Party of Allah is da bomb!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The terror research initiative at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands

    I started reading that but stopped at the point it claims that they stopped two men with eight million euros and found "the fingerprint of an infamous Dutch drug kingpin"

    Even in 500 euro notes that's 16,000 notes.

    I doubt they sat and fingerprinted them all and checked every single print found so I call bullshit on that article.

    1. Nicholas Winter

      Re: The terror research initiative at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands

      By hand? Don't be silly. They could easily set a digitisation process that was discriminating enough that it could pick up specific fingerprints if they so desired. Feed them through a system similar to a bill counting machine and you've got your drug kingpin. Or not if he's not in that batch.

      It's a lot easier to find something if you know what you looking for. Very intelligence operations aren't already narrowed down by such parameters before they get started.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The terror research initiative at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands

        Good point, so what you are saying is that they searched for what they wanted to find and found it, there are 613,559,542 500 euro notes in circulation (as of 2015) so the probability he touched one is probably zero because the big drug dealers don't handle the money, ever. Also adding that they found traces of drugs was a bit of a moot point as with any high denomination bank note you will invariably find traces. Therefore by putting these two unrelated facts together, the conclusion the writer of the research made was an error. The assumption that the money had drugs and a fingerprint is no proof that is was from drugs so I stand by my assertion that the research is bullshit.

    2. TheVogon

      Re: The terror research initiative at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands

      "Even in 500 euro notes that's 16,000 notes.

      I doubt they sat and fingerprinted them all and checked every single print found so I call bullshit on that article."

      They would presumably have been in standard bundles of 50. So only 800 to check...

  17. druck Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Lethal my arse

    Even a "nanodrone" can still deliver a lethal payload; two years ago a drone was used to land a bottle of radioactive sand from Fukushima on the roof of the office of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
    That wouldn't have been lethal even if the drone managed to pour the sand down the PM's neck.

    1. bin

      Re: Lethal my arse

      It's called 'proof of concept'.

      Maybe you've never heard of sarin, anthrax, ebola, y-pestis, polonium etc etc.

      Imagine a few drones over - say - London New Year's Eve with biological warfare payloads....

      What price freedom of speech eh?

      Oh and all you 'my privacy' apologists who think encrypted Watsapp is essential to your rights - I hope you think the price people have paid in London and around the world is really good value for money!

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Lethal my arse

        "Oh and all you 'my privacy' apologists who think encrypted Watsapp is essential to your rights - I hope you think the price people have paid in London and around the world is really good value for money!"

        I do not want to appear snarky or cynical; nor do I ignore the loss of life and all that it entails - but from where I sit, the answer is yes.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. patrickstar

        Re: Lethal my arse

        All of those things being very difficult to manufacture and/or package for efficient delivery, of course. And if you actually have the good stuff, there are tons of delivery options that don't involve drones.

        Sarin: Used by exactly one terrorist group ever. Killed 12 people, which is less than what you can accomplish with a car. Hard to manufacture, precursors are controlled, and needs proper facilities. Not something you can do in a terrorist camp in the middle of nowhere. Hard to disperse efficiently.

        Anthrax: Common bacterium but hard to prepare the spores for efficient distribution - so far only governments have been able to. Basically needs to get into your lungs to do serious harm.

        Polonium: Needs a particle accelerator to manufacture. 'Nuff said.

        Y. pestis: We have beat that one already... with this little invention called antibiotics. And I assume it has similar manufacture/distribution difficulties as the others.

        As to encrypted WhatsApp helping terrorists kill people. Even assuming that's true, what would you suggest doing about it? The knowledge, source code, and software for strong encryption is very widely spread already. I'd suspect someone who has no qualms about killing people wouldn't mind using some "illegal" software when preparing to do so.

        And if you suggest backdooring WhatsApp and similar software, who would get the master keys? Would you be happy with the Chinese being able to read communications from US and UK business men for example? I'd bet the Chinese, Russians, and approximately every other country would be very angry if they weren't provided with the keys

  18. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Does Mr "EveryTime" realise just how childish his comment is?

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