The conservative media company, PragerU, is suing YouTube, the online video giant, claiming that YouTube censors the short videos PragerU produces.
Founded in 2011 by Dennis Prager, the organization focuses on conservative viewpoints on various issues. They create short, animated videos that discuss these issues. And they are ready to go to war with YouTube:
“‘Google/YouTube have represented that their platforms and services are intended to effectuate the exercise free speech among the public,’ write PragerU lawyers in the organization’s complaint (PDF), filed Monday. ‘As applied to PragerU, Google/YouTube use their restricted mode filtering not to protect younger or sensitive viewers from ‘inappropriate’ video content, but as a political gag mechanism to silence PragerU.'”
At least 37 of PragerU’s videos have been restricted on YouTube, meaning that the videos have age restrictions for their viewers. However, PragerU says these videos are purely educational, ranging in topic from the legal creation of Israel to the Korean War. And they’re pretty mad about it:
“YouTube’s actions are ‘absurd, arbitrary, capricious, and devoid of any rational basis,’ the lawsuit states. The lawsuit cites cases like Fashion Valley Mall v. National Labor Relations Board, in which the California Supreme Court allowed protesters to pass out leaflets on mall property, even though they were advocating for boycotts of certain stores.
PragerU also points to the case of Marsh v. Alabama, where the US Supreme Court ruled that Grace Marsh, a Jehovah’s Witness, had the right to hand out pamphlets on “privately owned” corporate property:
“The lawsuit includes a long list of PragerU videos that have been restricted or “demonetized” by YouTube, and it lists videos on similar topics that have not been restricted. For instance, PragerU claims its YouTube video “Are the police racist?” was restricted or demonetized, but it points to a list of six other videos related to police behavior and racism that weren’t restricted.”
This isn’t the first time that PragerU has had an issue with YouTube. Earlier this year the company published a press release that compiled all the videos that were marked as restricted.
Additionally, a British YouTuber also has had problems with YouTube restricting their videos. The YouTuber created videos with a “feminist and queer perspective” that had been marked as “potentially inappropriate content.”
“‘We believe they are engaging in an arbitrary and capricious use of their ‘restricted mode’ and ‘demonetization’ to restrict conservative political thought,’ said PragerU founder Dennis Prager in a statement (PDF) about the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims that YouTube has infringed on the company’s First Amendment rights and that constitutionally, the company has the right to post the videos.
There have been rumors of Google and YouTube cracking down on conservatives for years. Many of this stems from liberal organizations like Media Matters going after conservatives, but there seems to be more than just that going on. Hopefully, this will get to the bottom of the issue and force Google to examine their policies and procedures. We will wait and see.
Let the mother of all lawsuits begin.