A conservative media company has sued YouTube, saying that the online video giant illegally censors the short videos it produces.
PragerU was founded in 2011 by Dennis Prager, a prominent conservative writer and radio talk show host. The organization is a nonprofit that espouses conservative viewpoints on various issues by means of short, animated videos, which it posts on its own website, as well as its YouTube channel.
“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.”
PragerU says that at least 37 of its videos continue to be censored by “restricted mode filtering,” which limits views based on certain characteristics, including the age of the viewer. Those videos include “educational content ranging from the legal creation of Israel and the history of the Korean War, to the idea of diversity of thought on college campuses.”
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.
Another precedent PragerU points to is Marsh v. Alabama, a US Supreme Court case in which a Jehovah’s Witness was handing out religious pamphlets on the sidewalk in Chickasaw, a privately owned “company town” near Mobile. The high court ruled that Grace Marsh had a right to hand out pamphlets even though the sidewalk she stood on was owned by a private corporation.
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.
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