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The Iraq War live on YouTube

29 May, 2007
By Allison Orr

The US Military has launched a YouTube Channel, the Multi-National Force-Iraq channel, in an attempt to take the battle into cyberspace.  While debate continues over whether this is a form of propaganda or merely a way to distribute the hidden stories from Iraq, the channel has climbed in popularity and has just reached 1 million video views.

The creation of this channel is a recognition of the role the Internet can play in shaping public opinion, and a reaction to the use of cyberspace by Islamic militants.  Described as “a boots-on-the-ground perspective of Operation Iraqi Freedom from those who are fighting it”, the site aims to present another side of the Iraq war, showing scenes such as soldiers giving soccer balls to Iraqi children.   Military spokesman Lt Col. Christopher Garver told BBC News: “The cyberspace battle space was not one that we were particularly operating well in.  This was one of the first public steps into that cyberspace.”

The launch of this channel comes as the US has cut off access to YouTube for soldiers on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Citing security concerns and bandwidth limits the Pentagon cut off access to video-sharing and social networking sites such as YouTube, IFilm, MTV, My Space and others.

This week the founders of YouTube have challenged the Pentagon’s claim that soldiers watching online video are slowing down the massive defence network, and, along with representatives from the other banned web companies, are meeting with the Pentagon in the hope that the ban can be reversed.  This may include installing controls on the type of content that would be available. 

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