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YouTube returns to Pakistan in localised form

YouTubeThe world’s largest video platform YouTube is back in Pakistan after a three-year ban.

The re-emergence of the platform comes in a localised form, with the government able to remove content that it deems offensive, but only after a review by Google, YouTube’s owner.

YouTube was banned from the country in 2012 after an anti-Islamic film was uploaded, prompting protests across the country.

“Where we have launched YouTube locally and we are notified that a video is illegal in that country, we may restrict access to it after a thorough review,” Google said in a statement shared with the Guardian newspaper.

Commenting on what the return to YouTube in Pakistan could mean for content creators on the platform, Nick Fawbert, newly appointed global head of knowledge at multi-channel network Brand New Media, highlighted that Google does not seem to be pre-moderating the content on the Pakistani version of YouTube, and seems intent on applying existing processes to take-down requests.

So for most YouTube creators and subscribers in Pakistan the user experience will be indistinguishable from the global platform, Fawbert noted.

“There is a fundamental issue surrounding freedom of expression, and the irony is that many of us feel that the right to free speech comes with great responsibility, particularly when it comes to incitement to religious or racial hatred, or personal abuse and death threats,” Fawbert told Mumbrella.

“The debate is generally over who should regulate it – be it self-censorship, the web platforms or the government. For YouTube, regulation is currently by the platform itself under the pressure of public opinion,” he commented.

“They clearly anticipate that their internal thresholds of acceptability are likely to differ significantly from those of the Pakistan government, and it strikes me that country level moderation is a wise approach while they muddle through the details.”

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