Internet users can find just about anything on YouTube, even videos they don’t want to see. For that reason, users have the option to set YouTube to “restricted mode” with just a few clicks. It isn’t even necessary to sign in to make this adjustment. Many users, especially parents, are happy with this setting. Conservative educational site Prager University (PragerU) is not.
Is it about free speech? Or just money?
YouTube explains their restricted mode as a setting to “help screen out potentially mature content that you may prefer not to see or don’t want others in your family to see.” Nevertheless, impropriety is subjective. PragerU, some of whose videos are weeded out by You Tube’s restricted mode, sees absolutely nothing wrong with the content they post. So, they’re suing Google and its subsidiary YouTube for censorship.
PragerU alleges that YouTube restrictions are “an arbitrary and capricious use of their ‘restricted mode’ and ‘demonization’ to restrict non-left political thought.” They have underlined this lawsuit by publishing further opinions on “Googlearchy” with videos like “What happens when Google disagrees with you?” which bashes Google as “an ideological echo chamber.” (No word on whether this one ends up in the restricted pile).
PragerU is also mightily upset because the video restriction interferes with generation of ad revenue. With over 1.1 million subscribers to their YouTube channel, this beef is understandable. But in our charged political climate, if you’re posting provocative videos like “Where are the moderate Muslims?” and “Why socialism makes people selfish,” it’s not surprising that these topics get filtered into the restricted area.
Does Prager’s lawsuit have merit?
While PragerU also posts videos like “How to raise kids who are smart about money,” it’s easy to read into titles such as, “Why is healthcare so expensive?” and know that you probably aren’t going to get a non-partisan look at the American healthcare system.
Though PragerU cites former prime ministers, Pulitzer Prize winners, and prestigious university professors as giving voice to their videos, over 30 of their postings have been officially restricted. The lawsuit alleges that YouTube has vague content policies that allows them to stifle conservative voices, thereby violating PragerU’s freedom of speech.
The lawsuit claims that Google and YouTube informed PragerU that content reviewers considered their videos “inappropriate” for young audiences, a conclusion that PragerU vociferously rejects.