Father of slain journalist files complaint against YouTube over videos of daughter's death

Father of slain journalist files complaint against YouTube over videos of daughter's death
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The father of a journalist who was fatally shot on live television filed a complaint Thursday with the Federal Trade Commission against YouTube and its parent company, Google, claiming videos of his daughter’s killing have not been taken down despite numerous requests. 

Parker’s daughter, Alison Parker, was killed by a former co-worker during a live broadcast when she was working for CBS affiliate WDBJ in Virginia. The shooter filmed the killing and posted it to YouTube before killing himself. 

Andy Parker’s complaint, drafted by the Civil Rights Clinic of the Georgetown University Law Center, argues the videos uploaded on YouTube violate the platform’s own terms of service. 

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“YouTube claims that it polices its platform for these violent and disturbing videos, when in truth it requires victims and their families to do the policing—reliving their worst moments over and over in order to curb the proliferation of these videos,” the complaint said. 

“In Mr. Parker’s case, even videos of his daughter’s murder that were uploaded on the day of her death—nearly five years ago—and have been reported repeatedly since then, remain on the site to this day,” it adds. 

The video has been edited by users “in almost every case to increase their shock value” and used to harass Parker and his family, according to the complaint.

Andy Parker and his legal team argue the family’s “only tool” to defend themselves from “the nightmare of seeing their daughter’s death” is to watch the videos one by one to report them. 

A YouTube spokesperson said it has removed “thousands of copies” of the video for violating its policies. 

“Our Community Guidelines are designed to protect the YouTube community, including those affected by tragedies. We specifically prohibit videos that aim to shock with violence, or accuse victims of public violent events of being part of a hoax,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement.

“We rigorously enforce these policies using a combination of machine learning technology and human review and over the last few years, we’ve removed thousands of copies of this video for violating our policies. We will continue to stay vigilant and improve our policy enforcement.” 

Andy Parker has been vocal since his daughter’s death in criticizing YouTube and Google. He wrote an op-ed published last March in The Washington Post claiming the platform’s algorithms allow conspiracy theories about his daughter's death to spread.