SANTA CLARA, California, January 9, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – An educational project run by conservative commentator Dennis Prager returned to court this week to once again challenge the Google-owned YouTube for improperly blocking younger viewers’ access to its videos.
Prager University (PragerU) consists of weekly five-minute videos in which a variety of thinkers and policy experts explain a wide range of subjects, from politics to religion to philosophy and personal improvement. Among PragerU’s offerings have been a moral case against abortion and an exposé of Planned Parenthood.
Since LifeSiteNews’ original report on the case, PragerU now lists more than 80 videos as restricted, or more than a 10th of its library. “Many families enable restricted mode in order to keep inappropriate and objectionable adult and sexual content away from their children,” the nonprofit says, “not to prevent them from watching animated, age-appropriate, educational videos.”
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh rejected the suit in March, and PragerU appealed to the Ninth Circuit. Now, the Daily Caller reports that the nonprofit filed another suit Tuesday, this time in state court.
PragerU argues that YouTube is violating the California Constitution’s guarantee of free speech, violating state laws against religious discrimination and political bias, against “unlawful, misleading, and unfair businesses practices,” and committing breach of contract.
“We’re very optimistic we will win our federal suit based upon our case’s First Amendment merits. But there is reason to believe certain claims are even stronger in California,” PragerU CEO Marissa Streit said, according to Fox News. “Specifically claims relating to YouTube’s breach of contract and consumer fraud. They claim to be a public forum for free expression, but they behave instead as a publisher with editorial controls. You cannot have it both ways.”
“The state law claims were dismissed without prejudice. In other words, the court made very clear that the state law claims were dismissed out of deference to state law courts, that the state courts should decide issues of their own law – not the federal court,” lead PragerU attorney Peter Obstler explained. “Today we’ve come full circle by filing a state law action, as the judge requested we do, in a state court to litigate those issues there. So we’re now going to have a two-track litigation.”
YouTube released its own statement claiming that “giving viewers the choice to opt in to a more restricted experience is not censorship,” and that “PragerU’s videos weren’t excluded from Restricted Mode because of politics or ideology.” It did not offer an alternative explanation for their exclusion, however.
This isn’t Prager University’s only brush with online censorship.
On August 17, Prager announced that none of the group’s last nine posts were reaching any of PragerU’s three million Facebook followers, and that at least two videos were deleted entirely for supposedly containing “hate speech.” Facebook apologized and restored them several hours later, claiming they were the victim of an unspecified “mistake” – a response that an increasing number of prominent center-right figures and groups have heard from both Facebook and YouTube since 2016.