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Google has right to censor conservative nonprofit on YouTube – Naked Security


Just because YouTube is everywhere doesn’t make it the town square, a Seattle appeals court said on Wednesday. It’s neither a public forum nor a “state actor”, and it can’t be held to First Amendment court oversight as if it were a government body.

Thus did the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco dismiss a top right-wing content creator’s allegation that Google had violated its First Amendment rights by tagging dozens of its videos on abortion, gun rights, Islam and terrorism with its Restricted Mode and demonetizing them so the nonprofit can’t make money from advertising.

The suit was originally brought in 2017 by radio talk show host Dennis Prager, who runs the conservative, nonprofit educational company Prager University (PragerU). PragerU isn’t an actual university, and it doesn’t award certificates or degrees. It’s best known for its many 5-minute videos, some of which, starting in 2016, Google dubbed Restricted, including videos about the 10 Commandments, whether police were racist, and Israel’s legal founding.

The suit claimed that Google, with its outsize power to moderate user content on YouTube, was using that power to censor conservative viewpoints. Google’s content filters apply the Restricted Mode to material seen as unfit for minors, including videos that include alcohol abuse, sexual situations, violence, and other mature matters.

None of that applied to PragerU’s content, but dozens of its videos were still flagged for “objectionable content” by Google’s algorithm. After being flagged, the videos were then reviewed by humans, who often upheld the content restriction and, in addition, demonetized videos, making it tough for PragerU to leverage the platform for moneymaking opportunities by advertising.

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