A man is said to have murdered his father in the US state of Pennsylvania and then posted a brutal video of the victim’s severed head online. According to a statement from the responsible law enforcement agency, the crime occurred on Tuesday evening (local time) in the city of Levittown, around 40 minutes’ drive from Philadelphia. Police arrested the 32-year-old suspect early Wednesday morning.

Video online for several hours

According to police, the 14-minute video was available on YouTube for around five hours and received more than 5,000 views before it was removed from the online platform. It is supposed to show the alleged perpetrator holding up a transparent plastic bag that apparently contains a severed head.

The man identified himself by his full name, repeated conspiracy theories from the right-wing spectrum and called his father a traitor because he worked for the government. According to media reports, he also made threats against several US federal agencies and mentioned US President Joe Biden.

The law enforcement agency said the video played a role in the search for the alleged perpetrator. After his arrest, he was charged with, among other things, murder and desecration of corpses. The 32-year-old lived in the house with his parents. He was arrested around 160 kilometers from the crime scene.

Discussion about protection against brutal content on the Internet

YouTube must now ask itself why the cruel video was not removed from the platform sooner. A spokesman for the Google video platform told the New York Times that the video had been removed from the Internet because it violated YouTube’s guidelines on depicting violence. In addition, the suspect’s channel was closed due to violating the guidelines for violent extremism. Now we will make sure that the video is not uploaded again.

When controlling the videos uploaded by users, YouTube largely relies on algorithms that flag violations of guidelines or copyright and prevent the content from being displayed. Many YouTube employees are also involved in the control, for example when users complain about offensive content or want to reverse an incorrect block.

Between July and September of last year, YouTube removed more than 10.5 million channels and more than 8.1 million videos, according to the company. According to YouTube, more than 95 percent of the videos removed were initially flagged by automatic systems.

Also an issue in the US Parliament

There is currently a controversial discussion in the USA about the extent to which online platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, X (Twitter) or TikTok can be held responsible for the content of their users. Several laws are in the works in the US Congress that, among other things, would make it possible to hold online platforms liable for knowingly disseminating child pornographic content. At a hearing on Wednesday, senators called on company bosses to support relevant bills. Online services in the USA have so far been protected from responsibility for posts published by users – but they must take action if they learn of illegal and problematic content.