why are uk police forcing youtube to remove even more drill music videos?
Over 100 videos have been taken down from the streaming platform following a request by Scotland Yard.
It’s less than a year since police first began ordering the removal of drill music videos from YouTube, and they’re at it again. After asking the platform to remove around 30 videos in May 2018, Scotland Yard has continued to target the genre, with a report that over 100 videos have been removed this year alone.
In January the Met Police requested YouTube remove 129 videos which they claim incite or glorify violence, according to a report by Press Association. Of those 129, YouTube complied on 102, of which the majority were “videos for tracks for the rap sub-genre.”
The Met Police and Scotland Yard have undertaken the siege on drill music as part of their belief that the genre is (at least partly) responsible for London’s current surge in violent knife crime. In 2018 the capital recorded 132 murders, the highest number in over a decade -- in the first two months of the new year this worrying trend shows no sign of abating. A spokesperson for London police told Press Association that the drill music hitlist they have compiled is a selection of clips which “generate purely a violent retaliatory response”.
YouTube’s decision to remove the videos has been attacked by drill musicians, who rightfully point out that it has sinister connotations when it comes to freedom of speech. Drill activists have also pointed out that the policy unfairly targets artists while ignoring the wider cultural causes of gun and knife crime in London. In a statement to Spin, drill artist TK said: “This is systematic discrimination. We all know removing a video doesn’t stop crime and crimes are committed by individuals that have real issues in real life, not a song. Opposing drill artists listen to each other’s music and actually commend one another. People are stabbing each other and committing crimes because of real issues, not music.”
Even disregarding the unfair and untrue implication that drill is the only or leading contributor to London’s crime surge, YouTube’s decision to remove the videos is also a fairly selective look at the platform’s violent content. In fact, as i-D pointed out last year, the videos YouTube are deleting on the Met’s advice are only a tiny percentage of the violent material available on the site, whether that’s videos which promote extremist viewpoints or music videos from other genres which are just as violent or promote guns and crime just as much as drill is purported to do. From this perspective the continued focus on drill music is selective at best, and at worst, a myopic waste of police resources.