Wael Abbas said close to 100 images he had sent to YouTube were no longer accessible, including clips depicting purported police brutality, voting irregularities and anti-government demonstrations. YouTube, owned by search engine giant Google Inc., did not respond to a written request for comment. A message on Abbas's YouTube user page, http://youtube.com/user/waelabbas, read: "This account is suspended."
"They closed it (the account) and they sent me an e-mail saying that it will be suspended because there were lots of complaints about the content, especially the content of torture," Abbas told Reuters in a telephone interview. Abbas, who won an international journalism award for his work this year, said that of the images he had posted to YouTube, 12 or 13 depicted violence in Egyptian police stations.
Elijah Zarwan, a human rights activist and blogger living in Egypt (and a personal friend), told Reuters that he found it unlikely that YouTube had come under official Egyptian pressure, and was more likely reacting to the graphic nature of the videos.
I wonder if the people making account-suspension decisions at YouTube realize that they're blocking an important distribution channel for some of the most important journalistic work to come out of Egypt in years. It would be a shame if this is happening because of some squeamish and/or paternalistic YouTube users who can't be content to simply turn their own eyes away. Then again, that's slightly less disturbing than YouTube caving in to Egyptian government pressure. I'll keep my eyes on this one.