In Stunning Policy Change, Video Website Liveleak Bans Gory ISIS Beheading Videos

In Stunning Policy Change, Video Website Liveleak Bans Gory ISIS Beheading Videos

The UK-based video sharing website LiveLeak, which has become famous for its willingness to host videos featuring graphic violence that other sites ban, has issued a statement announcing it will ban any videos showing the beheading of a captive by the jihadist terror group the Islamic State.

According to CNN, the website’s operators, who wrote the statement jointly, issued a statement explaining that they no longer see a reason to host beheading videos from the Islamic State– formerly known as ISIS. While there is little value to showing the beheadings, they explain, doing so also leaves open the possibility that disseminating that media would help ISIS recruit new members.

The statement posted on Liveleak elaborates: 

We will not be showing further beheadings carried out by IS. We’ve shown the world the true horror of this form of execution more than once in the past and we cannot find any compelling reason to even be thought of as promoting the actions of this group. We know they do not find support here on LL and that condemnation is virtually universal but there is no reason at all to show more beheadings. Nothing changes about them, they’re still relentlessly grim and no deeper insight will be offered by descending into some grotesque “beheading of the week” scenario.

The group notes that they have chosen not to remove the video that prompted this discussion: the beheading of American journalist James Foley. “We chose to show it because it’s within our remit to show such items given this is an outrageous and horrific act carried out by a movement in the Middle East hellbent on conquest, death and destruction,” the group explains.

The decision not to host the graphic footage surprised many, as Liveleak’s reputation is almost inextricably linked with hosting brutal images of violence in the Middle East. Liveleak has cultivated this reputation actively; as founder Hayden Hewitt explained in a 2008 interview with The New Freedom, “We’ll only take things down if there is a genuine threat to human life.” Founded in 2006, the website first became prominent upon hosting video footage of the execution of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. 

Today, it continues to host extremely violent images of the ongoing wars in Syria and Ukraine and jihadist violence across the Middle East, but hosts other types of controversial media, as well, such as a video of a fish that appears to be smoking a cigarette.


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