British YouTube rules out banning disputed drill music

LONDON (AFP) -The head of the British division of YouTube yesterday ruled out banning a controversial style of street music that some activists blame for fuelling London gang violence.

Anti-knife crime campaigners smeared their hands with fake blood during a rally in May outside YouTube’s London offices in protest against the Google-owned video sharing platform’s alleged promotion of graphic content.

They criticise drill music in particular – a London hip hop style filled with sparse beats and explicit lyrics especially popular in black communities.

London’s police chief last year said drill’s dark lyrics have had a “terrible effect” on glamourising violence and gang membership.

The United Kingdom (UK) capital’s force has asked for dozens of videos to be taken down.

But YouTube UK Managing Director Ben McOwen Wilson said the line between the protection of public safety and the promotion of artistic expression was not always clear.

“While some have argued there is no place for drill music on YouTube, we believe we can help provide a place for those too often without a voice,” McOwen Wilson wrote in The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

“To strike this balance, we work with the (London) police, community groups and experts to understand local context and take actions where needed.”