The founder of an organization that serves military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder says that Google-owned YouTube barred him from running an advertisement that used "Christian" as a keyword but allowed him to run the same ad using "Muslim" as a keyword.
Chad Robichaux, a former Marine and professional mixed martial arts fighter who founded the Mighty Oaks Foundation, complained on Twitter Tuesday about what he considered to be a "clear bias" shown by the video streaming platform.
“We ran a YouTube ad for our veterans ministry outreach for those in need & it was denied for the word ‘Christian.’ Insane!” Robichaux wrote in a tweet.
“Censorship should terrify every American; conservative or liberal, Christian or Muslim. This bias is a dangerous course for America.”
Robichaux’s tweet included a screengrab of a notification from YouTube alerting him that Christian is “unacceptable content as keyword.”
YouTube responded in a tweet from its @TeamYouTubeAccount explaining that the platform does not allow advertisers to target users on the basis of their religion.
“Beyond that, we don’t have policies against advertising that includes religious terms like ‘Christian,’” the @TeamYouTube tweet read.
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That answer did not sit well with the 43-year-old Robichaux.
“We ran the exact same ad with the keyword ‘Muslim’ & it was approved but ‘Christian’ was not,” he responded in another tweet. “Additionally, we’ve ran ads with the keyword ‘Christian’ for years. This year alone we had 150,000 impressions on that word in our ads. As per your support line this is a new restriction.”
TeamYouTube did not respond to Robichaux’s follow-up tweet on Twitter.
The Christian Post reached out to Google and YouTube for comment on Robichaux’s claim that the word “Muslim” was accepted as a keyword. A response is pending.
Mike Berry, chief of staff for First Liberty Institute, a law firm that represents Robichaux, said:“Censorship of religious viewpoints by social media giants like YouTube has become far too common and simply can’t be tolerated. Concerns over big tech companies violating the spirit of the American principle of free expression continue to grow. We are investigating this incident to determine what legal action might be appropriate.”
Robichaux added that Islam and any other religious belief “should be approved equally.”
In an interview with FaithWire, Robichaux said that his marketing team tried to publish an advertisement on Saturday for an episode of the “Mighty Oaks Show,” the foundation’s podcast.
The episode featured stories of how the Christian faith helped Korean War veteran Harold Bauer find healing.
After receiving the notification of rejection from YouTube, Robichaux said that he called the helpline and was additionally told “Google’s new criteria prohibited the word, ‘Christian.’”
“We have to reach the veterans who are in need of programs like ours with so many people suffering: the suicide epidemics over 20 a day, military divorces, PTSD. Outreach is very important to us,” Robichaux told Breitbart in a radio interview. “We run ads through Google and through YouTube and we use keywords to reach the people we want to reach. Words like veterans, PTSD, military. Because we are a Christian organization, we use the word, Christian.”
“Since Jan. 1 of this year, we have used that word,” he added. “On Saturday when we ran this ad, it was not approved.”
Robichaux accused YouTube of having a “very clear bias.”
He said that the Mighty Oaks Foundation let the ad go live with the keyword “Muslim” just to see if it was going to go through. And it did, he said.
“It’s up now but not with the keyword Christian,” he stated. “There is obviously a lot of Christian content on the internet but the problem is not getting our content on their [sic] the problem is when we advertise. This is how platforms like this … make their revenues through advertising. They are supposed to be a nonbiased platform. It is really deceptive trade practices to say that they are non-biased. One group can advertise and reach their target audience and the other group can’t.”
Since its founding in 2011, Mighty Oaks has reached hundreds of thousands of active duty service members with hundreds of graduates from its weeklong retreat program.