15 Feb 2018
Google has responded to a lawsuit brought against them by Prager University claiming that YouTube violates the First Amendment by censoring conservatives, but their response does not address censorship or the reasoning behind restricting and demonetizing PragerU and other conservatives.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that Google has responded to a lawsuit brought against the tech company by Prager University. In 2017, PragerU brought a lawsuit against Google alleging that the tech company’s YouTube division was violating the First Amendment by censoring free speech. PragerU, which was founded by conservative radio host Dennis Prager and produces short, graphics-based videos relating to conservatism, claimed in their lawsuit that “Google/YouTube uses their restricted mode filtering not to protect younger or sensitive viewers from ‘inappropriate’ video content, but as a political gag mechanism to silence PragerU.”
Many of PragerU’s videos were placed in “restricted mode” by YouTube, which makes the videos unavailable to be shown in schools and libraries and places a warning on videos stating that they are restricted. In 2016, PragerU attempted to deal with their issues with YouTube outside of court, writing on their Facebook page that they had “worked quietly behind the scenes for months to resolve this, but YouTube’s censorship continues, leaving us with no option but to go public.” PragerU then asked users to sign a petition demanding that YouTube stop blocking the videos. “There is no excuse for Google and YouTube censoring and restricting any PragerU videos, which are produced with the sole intent of educating people of all ages about America’s founding values,” PragerU stated.
Google initially declined to comment on the lawsuit but has since issued the following statement.
YouTube is an open platform and, to make it a great place for users, creators and advertisers, we provide different choices and settings. Restricted Mode is an optional feature used by a small subset of users to filter out videos that may include sensitive or mature content. Giving viewers the choice to opt in to a more restricted experience is not censorship. In fact, this is exactly the type of tool that Congress has encouraged online services to provide for parents and others interested in a more family-friendly experience online.
Google’s reply in no way explains why content by PragerU is targeted while similar content from liberal creators is not. For instance, PragerU’s video titled “Are 1 in 5 women in college raped?” is restricted while an episode of Real Time With Bill Maher about the documentary The Hunting Ground, which specifically investigated the issue of rape on American college campuses, is entirely unrestricted — as is a video of pop singer Lady Gaga singing about rape. An interview with former Vice President Joe Biden discussing campus rape is also unrestricted on the platform. All of this content deals with the same issue in varying manners, yet only PragerU’s video is restricted.
Google’s statement does not address this targetting of conservatives for restriction or demonetization. This problem is not isolated to PragerU by any means. Other examples of YouTube censorship include the demonetization of Diamond & Silk, and the ongoing battle between YouTube and classical liberal Dave Rubin.