The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called on YouTube and its parent company Google to crack down on online videos that encourage gang violence and knife crime, urging the internet giants and all online platforms to do more to remove this content and prevent it reappearing.
YouTube has refused to take down four violent videos reported to them by the Metropolitan Police since December. The videos depict gang members threatening and goading rival gangs, describing how they would murder them, making shooting hand signals and waving a Rambo knife to a soundtrack of violent rap.
Collectively, the videos have been viewed more than 356,000 times. Despite YouTube’s own rules stating that ‘threats, harassment, intimidation (and) inciting others to commit violent acts…are taken very seriously’ and the Met providing detailed context, the site claimed no breach had taken place.
The Mayor believes online platforms must take a tougher stance on gang and knife-related videos, put stricter rules in place and act quickly to take down content that violates them.
Gun and knife crime in the capital have increased by 42 per cent and 24 per cent respectively over the last year*, with social media and the internet often misused to fuel violence between gangs and glamorise the use of weapons such as zombie knives.
The Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) is already working with YouTube and Google to tackle online hate crime and is seeking a meeting to expand this work to tackle concerns around content which glorifies knife crime.
Sadiq Khan has made tackling serious youth violence a core priority in his Police and Crime Plan, launching a comprehensive Knife Crime Strategy in June, in which he pledged to encourage the Law Commission to review legislation on offensive online communications.