Dear YouTube and Google staff - I hope you're reading this. Because you could save my life and the lives of countless others who use your platforms, products, and services to report and speak out against Islamic extremism. Because, right now, you're on the wrong side.
In May of this year, I reported on violence in Bangladesh initiated by an Islamist group known as Hefejat-e-Islam. I was one of the few people to be able to do so as the Government of Bangladesh had banned and removed many professional journalists from reporting in-country.
I live-tweeted, live-instagram'ed, and filmed and uploaded what I saw as quickly as I could. This material was later used (via linking and embedding to the original content) by France 24 News, a human rights NGO called Witness, and right here on The Huffington Post.
My reporting enraged many Islamists and Bangladeshi Muslims. You can even see this in the comments many Muslims have left on websites which have used the content that I recorded and documented. Unfortunately, this has escalated to a point where my safety and ability to report is in jeopardy.
And the problem is: you are helping the Islamists.
YouTube has an automated system to submit copyright claims. This system is designed to give an easy way for rights-holders to protect their content. I myself had to rely on this system when Muslims were cherry-picking and uploading edited versions of my content to pro-Islamist YouTube channels without my permission.
However, the problem is that this system is blind and gives undue power to anyone who submits a copyright notice - no matter how blatantly fraudulent or how false. Islamists have discovered this flaw and have since used this system against me by filing copyright notices and taking down content that I own and host on my channel.
Firstly, this silences and censors my reports. By filing this fraudulent copyright claim on YouTube, Islamists have managed to simultaneously remove this content from France 24 News, Huffington Post, and even from the records of the human rights organization "Witness".
Secondly, by filing this fraudulent copyright claim, my ability to file additional reports is disabled. In particular, because Islamists have filed a copyright claim against me, I am no longer able to do live reporting using Google+. I believe this impact was known to Islamists.
In December of 2012, I used Google+ live reporting ability to publicly come out as a gay Muslim. Since then I have received threats and hatred from many Muslims. In fact, the Islamist who filed this fraudulent copyright claim against me had previously sent me messages comparing me to a thief and murderer - simply because I'm gay.
Finally, while YouTube makes it easy to file false copyright claims, it makes it very hard for honest people to fight such claims without putting their lives and their families at risk. Because, the only option available against a fraudulent copyright claim is to file a counter-notice.
YouTube mandates that anyone who files a counter-claim do so truthfully. This includes providing personal information including one's full name, phone number, email, and physical address. Worst of all? YouTube shares this information with whomever files the copyright claim.
In an attempt to restore content I filmed of Islamic extremism, I have had to file such a counter-claim. This is a long-drawn-out process that not only keeps my channel with a "strike" against it for weeks at a time but also leaves me and my family vulnerable as Islamists now have access to very personal information about me.
Knowingly or unknowingly, Google has given a tool that Islamists can use to silence and intimidate their enemies. What's the point of reporting on Islamic extremism if an Islamist can take it down in three clicks? Why must those who put their lives on the line on-the-ground risk their lives even further to fight fraudulent claims on YouTube?
I might survive this. But, as long as Google doesn't change, others might not.