Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Managing Editor Frederick Deknatel highlights a major unfolding story in the Middle East, while curating some of the best news and analysis from the region. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Middle East Memo by email every week.
It is probably the most documented conflict in history. Since Syria’s civil war began following the Assad regime’s suppression of a popular uprising a decade ago, activists, citizen journalists and everyday Syrians alike have uploaded videos and images of the conflict for anyone around the world to see. Reporters may have been widely barred from the country, but every day of the war, firsthand material has been broadcast from Syria on social media and on video-sharing sites like YouTube.
Yet much of this expansive and running archive of the worst war of this century is at risk of disappearing. Since 2017, YouTube, which is owned by Google, has removed hundreds of thousands of videos uploaded by Syrian activists, through automated software designed to take down violent or “objectionable” content, including graphic videos. It’s an effort to expunge extremist propaganda from the platform, but it comes with other costs.