Editor’s Note: This news story was updated to reflect the lifting of the age restriction and to add YouTube’s comment.
YouTube has added and later removed an age restriction to Al Jazeera Arabic’s live stream amid the channel’s ongoing coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
A message appeared on Al Jazeera Arabic’s YouTube page early on Wednesday, indicating the channel’s content may be inappropriate and that viewing the live stream requires verification of the user’s age.
In a statement, YouTube, which is owned by Google, said the platform age-restricts content that “may not be suitable for all audiences, such as content containing graphic violence. This means users will need to sign in and confirm they are 18 years of age or older”.
“Al Jazeera Arabic’s live stream was briefly age-restricted because of graphically violent content, but the age-restriction was lifted after the graphic content was no longer present,” the statement said.
“YouTube continues to be a powerful platform for audiences seeking free and reliable information especially during breaking news coverage,” the statement added.
The move comes amid what activists and media professionals say is a wider attempt by social media platforms to restrict access to free and reliable content on the conflict.
Earlier in May, social media users accused Facebook and its affiliate Instagram of removing content and accounts reporting on events in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem where Palestinian families face forced expulsion from their homes by Israeli authorities.
Letter to Google management
The Verge, a US-based technology news website, reported on Tuesday that a group of Jewish Google employees sent a letter to Google’s management, asking the company to increase its support of Palestinians.
Under the umbrella group of Jewish Diaspora in Tech, the employees asked Google CEO Sundar Pichai to put out a statement condemning the attacks in Gaza and the West Bank, The Verge reported.
In the letter, Pichai was asked for “direct recognition of the harm done to Palestinians by Israeli military and gang violence”.
“We ask Google leadership to make a company-wide statement recognizing the violence in Palestine and Israel,” the letter stated, adding: “Both Israelis and Palestinians are hurting right now, but ignoring the destructive and deadly attacks faced by Palestinians erases our Palestinian coworkers.”
The letter also asked the Google leadership “to reject any definition of antisemitism that holds that criticism of Israel or Zionism is antisemitic.
“Anti-Zionism is not antisemitism and this conflation harms the pursuit of justice for Palestinians and Jews alike by limiting freedom of expression and distracting from real acts of antisemitism,” according to the letter.
As of Wednesday, The Verge reported, the letter had 250 signatures.