Iona account reinstated on YouTube
Google has denied censorship following its closure and later reinstatement of the Iona Institute's YouTube account.
Attempts to view videos on YouTube by the conservative Christian think tank earlier today were met with a statement that the account had been closed "due to repeated or severe violations of our terms of service". Director of the Iona Institute, David Quinn, later admitted he had failed to reply to an email from Google seeking to verify the account's ownership.
Mr Quinn earlier speculated that the only video that could have caused any offence leading to the account's removal was one arguing the case for heterosexual marriage and against gay marriage.
The video is an animated series of images and text, voiced over by a young man and young woman, arguing heterosexual and homosexual partnerships are essentially different as “only a man and a woman can make new life.
“No two men and no two women can ever do this. So it makes sense to treat something unique in a unique way. That’s not discrimination," it says.
"I think this is a very worrying development. Does it mean YouTube has a new policy where any view in favour of traditional marriage is banned? Or is it that someone in Google in Ireland didn’t like the video? Because if either of these is the case it amounts to censorship," Mr Quinn said.
He said there were numerous other examples of videos in favour of man-woman marriage on YouTube, including ones by the US-based National Organisation for Marriage.
"It is extremely unfair that we have been singled out like this," said Mr Quinn.
Following coverage earlier today and comments criticising Google, YouTube contacted the Iona Institute by email a few hours ago, saying:
“Hi there, After a review of your account, we have confirmed that your YouTube account is not in violation of our Terms of Service. As such, we have unsuspended your account. This means your account is once again active and operational. Sincerely, The YouTube Team.”
A Google spokeswoman said the reason the account had been closed and reinstated had "nothing to do with censorship".
She said the blocking of the Iona account had been because the holder of the account had failed to reply to an email seeking verification of the identity account owner.
Mr Quinn said he accepted the explanation, explaining he had not had time to reply to an email from YouTube which had been in response to one he had sent.
He described the measures taken by Google as "heavy handed" however, "particularly when people who log on looking for the Iona videos were greeted with a statement saying we had been in 'repeated or severe violation' of its terms. People will be wondering what on earth we had done that was so severe.
"And I have lost a day’s work trying to sort this out," he said this evening.
According to YouTube's community guidelines: "We encourage free speech and defend everyone's right to express unpopular points of view. But we don't permit hate speech (speech which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity)."