Video Producer Sues YouTube for Censoring Pro-Life Videos

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jan 3, 2018   |   2:47PM   |   Washington, DC

A conservative talk show host is suing YouTube for censoring his videos about abortion and other issues.

Dennis Prager filed a lawsuit against the internet giant Google in October, claiming it is wrongly censoring conservatives like himself on YouTube, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

His Prager University publishes a YouTube series that discusses political and social issues from a conservative perspective. One of the videos that he alleges YouTube censored was The Most Important Question About Abortion,” which examines the morality of abortion, including whether an unborn baby should have rights.

On Friday, Prager asked a judge for a preliminary injunction against YouTube that would lift the restricted status from his videos, according to the report.

YouTube restricts videos that it considers “potentially mature” because of nudity, violence, profanity, obscene material, hate speech or other offensive content. People still can view videos that are restricted if they look for them.

Prager’s lawyers argued that because YouTube is so large, it basically is a public forum where the First Amendment freedom of speech should apply.

“Among others, legal scholars Professors Jeffrey Rosen and Timothy Wu warn that private corporations like Defendants ‘have more power over free speech and privacy than any president, king, or Supreme Court justice,’” they argued in a court brief.

“Because the First Amendment is ‘centered on the problem of wrongful discrimination in communications’ these scholars point out that ‘anyone who wants to understand free speech in the twenty-first century needs to know how the concept has expanded over time’ to include the vast and concentrated power over speech wielded by purportedly private internet intermediaries,” they continued.

Lawyers for Google argued that YouTube is a private company with First Amendment rights and it should not be compelled to host videos that it deems objectionable.

“While Plaintiff’s Complaint invokes the First Amendment, it seeks to invert the protections that it provides,” Google attorney Brian Willen wrote. “Rather than allowing PragerU to compel a private party like YouTube to make certain videos available to all users, the First Amendment gives YouTube the freedom to decide whether and how to present content on its service.”

Whether or not Prager’s lawsuit has merit, pro-life advocates have become increasingly concerned about online censorship on widely-used social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

In October, Twitter rejected an ad from pro-life Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn because she mentioned Planned Parenthood’s sales of aborted baby body parts. Twitter later reversed its decision after LifeNews and other news outlets reported about the matter.

Facebook and Twitter have blocked other pro-life advertisements in the past, as well.

In September, Live Action, the youth-centered pro-life organization known for its undercover investigations of Planned Parenthood, said Twitter has been censoring its ads. Live Action and founder Lila Rose said the social media site blocked their ability to advertise and told them to change information on their websites if they want to start advertising again.

Twitter also refused to run an ad from the Susan B. Anthony List in the fall because it contained the phrase “killing babies.”

In 2016, a Maryland pro-life pregnancy center also had its ad initially rejected by Facebook. The social media site tagged the phrase “if you are pregnant” as objectionable, likening it to “if you are fat.” Facebook later approved the ad after the pro-life group modified the phrase.

In 2015, Facebook also refused to allow Live Action News to advertise one of its stories because “the image or video thumbnail may shock or evoke a negative response from viewers.” The image was of baby Eli Thompson who was born without a nose.

Facebook became a subject of national news in 2016 after some of its workers admitted that they suppressed conservative news stories in favor of liberal ones., which is the leading pro-life news website on the Internet and the only one specifically devoted to pro-life issues, has long believed that Facebook has been suppressing its traffic.