PragerU released a video today titled
PragerU v. YouTube, it’s not very good. In it, Eric George — who “ has extensive appellate experience, having argued cases before the California Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the California Courts of Appeal,” according to PragerU — badly explains why his lawsuit makes sense.
I’ll allow him to explain:
Wait a second, you might say — YouTube, which is owned by Google, is a private company. Can’t they do anything they want?
The answer is: Yes…and no.
Yes, if they are a publisher. No, if they are a public forum.
So what’s the difference? This gets right to the nub of the matter.
A publisher chooses the content that resides on its site. The New York Times is a perfect example. You can’t write a story and just expect the New York Times to publish it. The Times chooses what appears on its pages or website. And if they publish a story that contains a malicious lie, or violates copyright law, they can be sued. PragerU is also a publisher. It decides what material gets placed on its website. Most sites are publishers.
In contrast, a public forum — which can be a physical location, like the classic town square or a shopping mall, or a virtual location, like a website — is a place that must allow individuals and organizations to exercise their free speech rights.
YouTube is an example of a public forum. In fact, YouTube describes itself as a public forum. You make a video. YouTube hosts it. And anyone with an internet connection can watch it. Facebook is also a public forum, and so is Twitter.
Here’s why this is so important:
A public forum under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — a law co-sponsored by Democrats and Republicans and passed by Congress in 1996 — is not subject to liability for content placed on its site. If someone posts a video about how to build a bomb or writes a threatening comment, the public forum website cannot be held legally responsible for that content.
Section 230 says no such thing, by the way. I would expect a lawyer to understand that. The phrases “Public Forum,” and “Platform,” appear no where in Section 230, that’s just something politicians made up so they had something to gut.
By the way, if gay marriage will lead to bestiality — which Dennis Prager has said — what will suing someone over Section 230 do? Eliminating it isn’t even a slippery slope, it’s what Senator Josh Hawley proposed. That is, when he’s not proposing just abolishing FaceBook.
That’s the thing with Republicans these days, either they’re complaining about you being authoritarian or they’re being authoritarian. Side note: When will PragerU use a segment to call out the anti-capitalist Josh Hawley? I won’t hold my breath, just as I won’t they’ll spend a segment insulting isolationist Pat Buchanan. They did spent a part of one calling out Dennis Kucinich though — making a quip about his “strength through peace,” slogan from his 2008 Presidential Campaign that barley made it to 2008. Next time they’ll make sure to mock Lyndon LaRouche’s 1996 Presidential Campaign.
Let’s actually look at what happened. First, I’ll let PragerU talk:
In 2016, viewers began to notice that certain PragerU videos were no longer available. YouTube had placed them on its “restricted” list, which prevents the videos from playing on computers using content filters to screen out violence and pornography.
PragerU assumed this was simply a case of “bad algorithms.” But YouTube said no — each “restricted” video had been reviewed by a walking, talking human. The list included such diverse titles as “Are the Police Racist?” by Heather Mac Donald, “Israel’s Legal Founding” by Alan Dershowitz, and even a video on the Ten Commandments by Dennis Prager. YouTube deemed each one unsuitable for young people, treating these videos the same as they would, say, for ones containing pornography or excessive violence. Keep in mind, this is PragerU we’re talking about — as Main Street as you can get!
And that, ultimately, turns out to be the issue.
PragerU’s center-right content — many of their videos, by the way, have no political theme at all — offends YouTube’s sensibilities. In other words, the videos aren’t being restricted to protect young people from inappropriate content; they’re being restricted to protect young people from ideas YouTube disagrees with.
So you can still watch the video, in fact, every single PragerU video is still up on YouTube. However, they just can’t watch it with a filter on no one uses anyway.
PragerU is a non-profit as well, so it is not as if they are being hurt financially. In fact, it’s hard to think a way they could be considered “censored,” since they are allowed to advertise — not just be viewed but advertise! — all over YouTube.
For that matter, if PragerU wins this lawsuit, could porn producers sue to allow there content on YouTube? YouTube has a terms of service — side note: That should tell you which side they’re on — is that just not allowed anymore? This is your brain on populism.
Here are things YouTube says can cause you to get a video restricted:
Drugs and alcohol: Talking about drug use or abuse, or drinking alcohol in videos.
Sexual situations: Overly detailed conversations about or depictions of sex or sexual activity. Some educational, straightforward content about sexual education, affection or identity may be included in Restricted mode, as well as kissing or affection that’s not overly sexualised or the focal point of the video.
Violence: Graphic descriptions of violence, violent acts, natural disasters and tragedies, or even violence in the news.
Mature subjects: Videos that cover specific details about events related to terrorism, war, crime and political conflicts that resulted in death or serious injury, even if no graphic imagery is shown.
Profane and mature language: Inappropriate language, including profanity.
Incendiary and demeaning content: Video content that is gratuitously incendiary, inflammatory or demeaning towards an individual or group.
Mature subjects is what I’d like to focus on. You can’t post videos on Terrorism, War, Crime, and Politics. Tell me, which PragerU video does not fall under one of these categories? Anyone got any? They shouldn’t because this is what they say they do:
We take the best ideas from the best minds and distill them into short videos. Our comprehensive digital marketing campaign promotes the ideas that have made America and the West the source of so much liberty and wealth. These values are Judeo-Christian at their core and include the concepts of freedom of speech, free markets and love for our country — The United States of America.
Yes, all of that counts as “mature subjects,” as anyone who actually read the rules would know.
Here’s how they say they chose what to talk about:
We identify key issues, trending news stories, and concepts that are critical to understanding American values, and we create dynamic content that answers these questions. If people are talking about it and it’s important, you can find it at PragerU.
Here’s what they say in regards to how bias they are:
Every person and every organization has a value system and a set of beliefs. PragerU is no different. We believe in the principles that have made America great. We believe in economic and religious freedom, a strong military that protects our allies, and in the religious values that inform Western civilization, also known as Judeo-Christian values.
And I could go on for a while.
PragerU should know what the rules are for the platform or publisher or whatever you want to call it they upload to. If they don’t, that’s there own faults.