Administration officials have asked YouTube to review a controversial video that many blame for spurring a wave of anti-American violence in the Middle East.
The administration flagged the 14-minute "Innocence of Muslims" video and asked that YouTube evaluate it to determine whether it violates the site's terms of service, officials said Thursday. The video, which has been viewed by nearly 1.7 million users, depicts Muhammad as a child molester, womanizer and murderer -- and has been decried as blasphemous and Islamophobic.
YouTube blocked access to the video in Egypt and Libya, where protests in Benghazi erupted in violence that claimed the life of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other embassy workers. However, the video remains on the site. Protests have spread to Yemen, where hundreds stormed the U.S. Embassy.
“We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions," YouTube said in a statement released Wednesday. "This can be a challenge because what's okay in one country can be offensive elsewhere."
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sharpened her criticism of the film that led to the protests. She called the film "disgusting and reprehensible" -- but said that the U.S. would never stop Americans from expressing their views, and that the movie is no excuse for violence, according to reports from the Associated Press.
YouTube declined comment on the administration request.
Earlier in the week, YouTube said it found that the video was "clearly within" its guidelines, which bar sexually explicit content, gratuitous violence, hate speech and what it termed "bad stuff" such as animal abuse, under-age drinking and bomb-making.