PragerU files 2nd lawsuit against Google, YouTube for ‘restricting and restraining’ conservative speech

YouTube unveils their new paid subscription service at the YouTube Space LA in Playa Del Rey, Los Angeles, California, United States October 21, 2015.
YouTube unveils their new paid subscription service at the YouTube Space LA in Playa Del Rey, Los Angeles, California, United States October 21, 2015. | REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Popular conservative YouTube channel Prager University has filed a new lawsuit against Google and YouTube, which Google owns, for unlawfully restricting and restraining speech.

Filed Tuesday in the Superior Court of California for the county of Santa Clara, this is the second lawsuit that Prager has filed against Google and YouTube, the first being filed in federal court.

In this latest suit, Prager accuses Google of violating state law in multiple ways, namely “unlawfully restraining free speech and expression in violation of Article One, Section 2 of the California constitution;” “discriminating against PragerU (and other users) based on political, religious or other discriminatory animus in violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act, Section 51 of the California Civil Code;” “engaging in unlawful, misleading, and unfair businesses practices in violation of the Unfair Competition Laws of the California Business and Professions Code,” and finally “violating YouTube’s terms of use, ‘Community Guidelines,’ and other content-neutral filtering policies and procedures.”

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“Google/YouTube continue to censor, restrict, and restrain video content based on animus, discrimination, profit, and/or for any other reason ‘or no reason,’ no matter how arbitrary, capricious, or discriminatory,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit noted these restrictions came through YouTube’s “Restricted Mode,” which is a filtering protocol used to block content deemed “inappropriate” for “sensitive” audiences; and “Advertising Restrictions,” a policy that prohibits advertisers from accessing videos deemed “inappropriate” for advertising.

“Google/YouTube use these filtering mechanisms as a pretext to justify restricting and censoring PragerU’s videos. And Google/YouTube continues to do so, even though the content of PragerU videos complies with YouTube’s written criteria,” the lawsuit argues.

In October 2017, PragerU filed a lawsuit against Google and YouTube in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, accusing them of ideologically-driven discrimination.

A Los Angeles-based group that has over 1 million subscribers on YouTube headed by conservative radio host Dennis Prager, PragerU has found many of its videos restricted or blocked due to complaints over its content.

For example, in 2016 a PragerU video featuring a pro-Israel British Muslim was labeled "hate speech" and blocked by the video-sharing site for anyone using restricted access standards.

Last February, YouTube "restricted" a video on Planned Parenthood featuring pro-life activist Lila Rose mere hours after it was uploaded to the popular video-sharing website.

In March 2018, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh dismissed PragerU’s federal lawsuit against Google, arguing that Google and YouTube “are private entities who created their own video-sharing social media website and make decisions about whether and how to regulate content that has been uploaded on that website.”

For their part, PragerU has appealed Judge Koh's decision before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 

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