Cambodian officials said recent policy expansions by YouTube to tackle racial discrimination and gender identity-based harassment will help. But abuse on social media remains an issue in the Kingdom as there are currently no laws to combat it.
Last week, YouTube announced a broadening of its anti-harassment policy to include “implied” as well as explicit threats, along with insults based on racial discrimination, gender identity or sexual orientation, said Matt Halprin, YouTube director of global trust and safety, as reported by AFP.
“We will no longer allow content that maliciously insults someone based on protected attributes such as their race, gender expression, or sexual orientation,” Halprin said in an online post.
YouTube already bans explicit threats, but now “veiled or implied” threats will also be banned, he said.
Halprin said YouTube has introduced policies against users posting content simulating violence against individuals or using language that could lead to physical violence.
With the announcement, Chea Pov, the director of the Anti-Cyber Crime Department at the General Commissariat of National Police, told The Post it was positive that YouTube had banned insults based on race, gender identity or sexual orientation from the video-sharing platform.
“Such a ban is good. It makes users know the boundaries and be more careful to avoid having their content removed by YouTube since the company now has stricter rules to follow,” Pov said.
He said he also expected that the move would go some way to discourage users from exploiting social media to attack each other.
“There are many users in Cambodia that post insulting messages when they are not happy with someone, so this ban is a positive development. It will help prevent such attacks and insults, especially with regard to racial discrimination,” Pov said.
Cambodia has not enacted laws on the use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and Ministry of Information director-general of Information and Broadcasting Phos Sovann told The Post that it currently has no plans to do so.
“We want to allow our citizens freedom when using social media, so there are no plans to create such a law. But we cooperate with social media companies such as Facebook to disseminate information on what Cambodians should and should not post, particularly when it affects other people’s rights.
“We also see a similar trend with fake news and fake ‘information’ that affect factual news and insults the honour of other people, especially with social media nowadays having a major effect on people. So [YouTube] taking it on itself to ban such content is good and we support the move,” Sovann said.
However, to prevent technology and social media from being used to commit crimes, the Ministry of Interior is preparing and reviewing legislation such as the draft law on cybercrime, which is aimed at protecting users and the management of data, as well as ensuring security and public order.
Early this year, YouTube said that it would stop recommending videos that claimed the earth is flat or that promoted spurious theories, but stopped short of banning such content, AFP reported.
Channels that repeatedly break its hate or harassment policies will be suspended from the partner programme that lets creators make money from ads or other features, Halprin was reported as saying.
“We may also remove content from channels if they repeatedly harass someone. If this behaviour continues, we’ll take more severe action including issuing strikes or terminating a channel altogether,” he said.