Google banned Christian YouTube ad on homosexuality after backlash from employees

Photo: Unsplash/Christian Wiediger
Photo: Unsplash/Christian Wiediger | Photo: Unsplash/Christian Wiediger

A video advertisement informing people on the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality was banned by Google-owned YouTube and ruled to be “counter” to the organization’s mission.

The Daily Caller News Foundation has reported that a Google vice president in June 2018 moved to prohibit a video advertisement from Messianic Jewish Radio host Michael Brown from being advertised on YouTube after employees called the video “homophobic.”

Radio talk host Dr. Michael Brown in a video report on the infamous abortionist Kermit Gosnell's 'self-deception'
Radio talk host Dr. Michael Brown in a video report on the infamous abortionist Kermit Gosnell's 'self-deception' | Screenshot

The video in question is titled “Can you be gay and be a Christian?” and was posted on Brown’s “AskDrBrownAccount.” In the video, Brown, an author, host of the "Line of Fire" podcast, and contributor to The Christian Post and other publications, argues that homosexual sex is a sin.

Although he argues it is no worse than other sins, he states that Christians are called to abstain from sinful behavior.

According to internal Google communications obtained by the Daily Caller, the video was flagged in an internal listserv newsletter called “Yes at Google.” The newsletter is run by Google’s human resources and is sent to over 30,000 employees. The listserv is devoted to addressing “microaggressions” and “micro-corrections” within the company.

Highlighted in the listserve was a comment from an employee who stated that Brown’s advertisement was appearing in channels operated by gay and lesbian users.

“I cannot see how this can be allowed when the specific idea of LGBT videos is to allow the creators to feel free to share their content and be comfortable that anti-LGBT advertisers would not be attached to their content,” the employee reportedly wrote. “This seems very counter to our mission, specifically around PRIDE 2018 timeframe.”

After backlash to Brown’s video’s advertising continued to grow among employees, Google vice president for product management and ads, Vishal Sharma, declared that the video would no longer be eligible to run as an advertisement.

Although she stated that YouTube is an open platform that supports the “free expression of creators with a wide range of views,” Sharma reportedly explained in a comment published by the listserv that “we don’t allow advertising that disparages people based on who they are.” This also includes people’s sexual orientation.

“[W]e remove ads that violate this basic principle,” she stated.  “After careful and multiple reviews over the course of a few days, our teams decided to remove the ad in question here as it violates our policy. We’ve communicated this to the advertiser and have been in touch with creators who have been actively engaged on this issue.”

The Christian Post reached out to Google for comment on the Daily Caller article and for confirmation of Sharma’s comments. A response is pending.

Brown responded to the Daily Caller article in an op-ed titled “Google v. God’s word.” Although Sharma accuses his video of disparaging people, Brown asserts that his video showed no hatred toward the LGBT community and just simply shared God’s word.

“I did not disparage anyone on the video. Not once,” he stressed.  “I simply stated what God’s Word says, simply and clearly and directly.”

While some could argue that Brown’s assertion that someone can’t be a true follower of Christ if they openly practice homosexuality is disparaging, he maintains that he “simply repeated what God’s word says and what the Synagogue and Church have believed for millennia.”

“Not only so, but in the video I made clear that no one is condemned for having feelings or attractions,” he detailed. “The issue is whether we act on those feelings or attractions. And that, in fact, is our choice.”

Brown said he believes that Google’s battle right now is “with the Bible.”

“[This means] that, if I simply produced a video reading relevant Bible verses on the subject, that video would not be suitable for advertising either,” he warned. “It would be one thing if Google said, 'Let’s be sure this video is only advertised on conservative Christian channels.' That would have been perfectly fine, and we would have fully respected that. Our goal was to equip believers with truth, not provoke LGBT viewers on their own channels. But that was not to be.”

Google software engineer Mike Wacker first spoke out against the “Yes at Google” listserv in a Twitter thread last week where he stated that “HR is involved in describing sincere religious beliefs as ‘homophobic.’”

“[T]his newsletter has also enabled a ‘call-out culture’ where small incidents or opposing viewpoints are called out with big words: misogynistic, racist, homophobic, etc,” Wacker wrote.  “Employees call out each other and sometimes call out Google's users.”

In addition to banning his video from being advertised, Brown’s YouTube account has also been demonetized based on a decision he can not appeal. This means that the account can’t earn money from advertising posted to the account’s videos.

Administrators claimed that Brown’s account was demonetized due to re-used copywrited content. His account was ruled not to comply with YouTube Partner Program terms.

“There are a handful of videos that we received notice about for using a music clip or TV clip that they claimed was not fair usage. But in each case, they made clear this was not a strike against us, that we were not in any trouble with them, and that there was nothing we needed to do,” Brown explained. “In the end, a few of those videos were demonetized based on these alleged copyright violations.”

When Brown asked for clarification on the decision to demonetize the account, he received an email back explaining that administrators could not provide him with “specific details” as to what led them to this decision.

“Of course, we will push back every way we know how, first because these are unfair business practices and second because pushing back against YouTube’s double standards is the thing to do,” Brown stated. “And while I can’t say for sure that this happened to us because we are outspoken, conservative, Bible believers, I can say with certainty that Google/YouTube has certainly made clear where it stands on these issues.”

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

or Facebook: SamuelSmithCP

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