Details are emerging about the California man who made the YouTube video that is being blamed for inciting anti-American protests around the world.
According to numerous news accounts, Nakoula Bassely Nakoula pleaded guilty to bank fraud in 2010 and is now being investigated for possible probation violations. As part of his probation he was supposed to not use the Internet without reporting to his probation officer and he was not supposed to use assumed names.
The amateurish trailer, which remains on YouTube, to the film looks like a bad parody of a bad Saturday Night Live skit. It got virtually no attention until it was translated into Arabic, prompting demonstrations first in Egypt and now in more than 60 countries around the world. In many of those nations, the production of any film comes only with state approval. And so the apparent perception amongst the lawless rioters is that despite all the disavowals and all the denunciations from American leaders – this film is a product of the United States, instead of a small group of reckless filmmakers.
In the aftermath of the rioting Google has blocked access to it in certain countries including Libya and Egypt. But the damage has been done. The power of the internet to spread the sensational and inflammatory is unprecedented. In an age when almost everyone with a cell phone can produce a video and post it on line, it is virtually impossible to prevent incendiary material from going up on the World Wide Web.
And that is a terrible reality of the hyper-connected age we live in.