YouTube deletes thousands of videos from extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki

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Hundreds of hours of Awlaki's lectures and talks had been easily accessible on the site for years, according to the Times.

According to The New York Times, YouTube has wiped its archives clean of Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical cleric whose videos reportedly served as online grooming to a number of us terrorists, including the shooter of the Orlando nightclub in 2016.

YouTube is now blocking most of those videos with a combination of automatic and human reviewers, the New York Times reported Sunday. The video sharing website had removed several extremist videos from the site. At the time, YouTube said its community policies "prohibit risky or illegal activities such as bomb-making, hate speech, or incitement to commit specific and serious acts of violence".

However, the policy will not affect news clips or educational videos about terrorism.

One example is Anwar al-Awlaki. However, he still remained a risky figure, with his incendiary lectures and sermons still accessible online.

Anwar al-Awlaki, an American cleric and leading English-language jihadist recruiter, has helped inspire a generation of terrorists, including the Boston Marathon bombers, the Fort Hood gunman, and those behind the shootings in Orlando, Fla. and San Bernardino, Calif.

Counterterrorism proponents and governments have expressed concerns that Awlaki's videos, as well as other forms of Islamist propaganda, could fuel homegrown extremism.

In 2015, internet giant Google said that YouTube was so inundated that staff couldn't filter all terror-related content, complicating the struggle to halt the publication of terrorist propaganda and hostage videos.

All three companies announced their own set of measures to address the issue and vowed to be more transparent about its policies. Google revealed that Russian actors spent tens of thousands of dollars on propaganda ads on Google search, YouTube and Gmail.

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