Data obtained via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, show that the Met have referred for 510 music videos to be taken down from YouTube in 2021, with 96.7% of requests being accepted.
In 2020, 125 referrals made, resulting in 124 removals; the year before that shows 110 videos were referred and 107 removed.
These recent figures depict an almost 300% rise year-on-year.
The Met are looking into “videos that incite violence” and have been working on this since 2015 when they launched ‘Operation Domain’.
Videos are being removed within a matter of hours as the relationship between the Met and YouTube is described as a “collaboration” and “enhanced partnership working”.
A YouTube spokesperson told VICE: “At YouTube we are deeply committed to helping music of all genres grow and thrive. While YouTube is a platform for free and creative expression, we strictly prohibit videos that are abusive or that promote violence."
"We work closely with organisations like the Metropolitan police and National Crime Agency to understand local context. We’re committed to continuing and improving our work on this issue to make sure YouTube is not a place for those who seek to do harm.”
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‘Operation Domain’ was turned into ‘Project Alpha’ in June 2019 with £4.9 million in funding from the Home Office.
The Met says its Project Alpha officers have been given “trusted flagger” status by YouTube to “[ensure] that harmful material is removed quickly from the platform”.
The same officers added that they are “street-wise” and “have previous experience of working in gang units across the capital” and possess “extensive insight into gangs, understand the slang and colloquial language used and can spot emerging threats”.
Becky Buckle is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter