Conservatives Can Flourish on YouTube

Conservatives musts top complaining about ideological discrimination under every Internet rock

As a child of the Reagan Revolution, I have always found Dennis Prager to be a leading light for moral politics to my generation. I have read his books, listened to his radio show, and followed his commentary on a host of outlets, including YouTube.

So it is with great respect for Mr. Prager’s contributions that I disagree with the premise of his lawsuit accusing YouTube of discrimination against the content of Prager University for ideological reasons.

In 2016, I ran the data and digital operation for the Ted Cruz for President Campaign and YouTube was one of our most important tools. This experience leads me to the conclusion that this issue is much bigger than a dispute over the content of 50 of Prager University’s videos.

This is about conservatives complaining about ideological discrimination under every Internet rock, giving credence to the call on the Left for regulation of content providers like Facebook, Google, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter (among others).

The facts of the Prager U lawsuit deserve attention. Fifty Prager U videos on YouTube have been tagged for restricted mode. YouTube has argued, and the courts recently agreed, that this was done according to the company’s content guidelines.

But all YouTube videos are rated. The ratings categories are consistent with the parental ratings guidelines established by the television industry. Ratings guidelines correspond to users’ general expectations for content.

This is critical to parents. As the father to two boys, and a technophile, I would submit it is increasingly difficult to monitor their viewership and online activity. Being able to control their content through a restricted mode setting is critical. It means I don’t have to constantly monitor programming for sexual content, offensive language or serious subjects appropriate only for adults.

If YouTube, or its parent company Google, has an ideological bent against conservatism, then it’s hard to explain the treatment of Prager U videos compared to that of other channels.

While 12 percent of Prager U videos are restricted, video content from liberal content providers is even more restricted. For instance, YouTube has restricted access to 14 percent of videos from Huffington Post, 28 percent from Vox.com, 46 percent from Democracy Now and 55 percent from The Daily Show. Furthermore, 24 percent of the content from The History Channel is restricted.

It makes sense that nearly one in four videos from the History Channel would be restricted: programs on the Third Reich, the purges of Stalin, and the battles on the Pacific Islands while both fascinating and educational, they contain content appropriate for adults.

Prager U videos placed on restricted mode include discussions of rape, abortion, ISIS and police racism. As a parent, I appreciate that YouTube allows me to decide if this content is appropriate for my boys.

As conservatives, we should be championing decency standards in media. As our culture careens toward a sewer of toxicity, obscenity and godlessness, it’s nice to know content providers are giving parents tools (without government requirements).

Furthermore, while these restrictions can impact ad revenue for a content provider, it means advertisers can know their products are not sold during programming they might consider objectionable.

What is the alternative to this regime of self-enforced restrictions by a private content provider? Something much worse: Congress passing a regulatory regimen that not only restricts freedom but could impose a real bias against conservative content.

Clearly conservatives know what it is like to fight media bias. In the past, we had to deliver our message through a media filter, when television, radio and newspapers were the whole ballgame. The digital revolution has changed that. We now take content directly to voters and consumers of news.

But conservatives, quick to find a liberal conspiracy under every rock, have taken aim at Facebook, YouTube and Google in recent weeks. In crying bias where it doesn’t exist, we are playing into the liberals’ hands. And we risk limiting our most important communication tool in the process.

If the pro-regulations forces in Congress can claim both parties are dissatisfied with social media and Internet content providers, it strengthens their case for government parameters over social media and Internet content as media. This will ultimately mean the content that today gets past the media filter will have its own media filter. It will likely obstruct our efforts to deliver conservative content on these channels.

Instead of complaining about the content rules, conservatives should master them. When we do, we win under them.

In reality, conservative content is also flourishing on YouTube. Content that is restricted is not a reason for complaints about bias. If anything, it underscores we have won an important debate about decency in the public sphere.

Let’s accept our victory, and continue to produce creative, conservative content that cuts through the clutter without facing (or helping implement) new regulatory barriers.

Comments
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streiff_is_a_moron
streiff_is_a_moron

If conservatives can only bitch about how unfairly youtube/facebook/etc(sites created by liberals) are treating them, why don't they create their own? Oh, right - the people complaining don't have 2 brains cells between them all.

Alex Wilson
Alex Wilson

I thought that Prager sued for the wrong reason, he should have sued for breach of contract, specifically that because Google/YouTube's terms of service offered consideration (ad revenue for monetized videos) in exchange for content creators posting videos that conformed to the standards that they had set, it created a de facto contract with them. So all Prager would have to prove is that the videos that were wrongly placed in restricted mode/demonitized under YouTube's terms of service.

There's also the issue of add revenue that is lost in while videos that should be monetized go through YouTube's appeals process. My view is that if a video is improperly demonetized and the video's creator successfully appeals, they should be entitled to compensation equal to the add revenue that would have been paid to the content creator had the videos been monetized correctly. This gives YouTube an incentive to ensure that monetization decisions actually follow the standards set out in their Terms of Service, as they will take a financial hit for every video that is incorrectly demonitized.

OUWantdSum2
OUWantdSum2

I feel like i've happened upon a liberal troll website where actual offenses are hyperbole and accusations are good cause for concern... Who keeps paying you for your trifle? Suddenly,, Conservatism doesnt necessarily mean Constitutional and Monopolies are now good? So, big tech internet bullies are free to infringe other's 1st amendment Rights? I'd like to know how they're not in multiple class action lawsuits from every censored individual or group on the internet... I guess censorship doesnt matter as long as its not YOU... I'd venture to say that if you are not being actively censored the trifle you write doesnt matter and has no impact, so no one bothers? So, get this, the Constitution is still on the books, Monopolies are still against the law, so let's all make damn sure to defend ANY and ALL who find their Constitutional Rights Violated by an ever encroaching and ever more militant Socialist State and Monopolistic Corporations... If we cant all agree on that, then i dont want to see your BS parading around as Conservatism, move your belittling patronizing apathetic tripe on over to the trash bin or Daily Kos, where it belongs.

etbass
etbass

While you may be correct about Prager U's ratings not being the result of bias, your basis for that is complete garbage. Just because some leftist sites have a higher percentage doesn't mean anything. It's an irrelevant point.

The content would have to be equal in level for that to mean anything. Samantha Bee would be more restricted than Mark Lowery. That doesn't mean ideology is at play, nor prove it isn't. One is very vulgar, the other isn't.

I agree that we need to be careful of government censorship through regulations. I'd rather fight a biased company or all of them, than to allow the government to control it. Then we get censored twice.

You presented no evidence to back up the claim that there is no censorship. If there is no censorship of conservative content among the tech giants, then why are all of the algorithms, false flags and restrictions made on the right? When is the last time an alogrithim unfairly censored or rated a leftist post or site? If it's not intentional, why are the "mistakes" always one way?

RogueValley
RogueValley

As someone who works in tech as well, I have lately found this to be very frustrating. It's the general whataboutism, except the folks claiming others are getting away with something, don't even know enough to figure out HOW to know facts, and don't know where to find someone they trust to tell them the real answer.

And this is both a left and right problem, people are relying on Facebook and Twitter to give them facts, that's just silly, have you met the folks that post a lot of Facebook, not the ones you want to base your fact base on.

Oh, and mostly the folks complaining about YouTube aren't talking about discrimination, they're talking about demonetization, and it's not just guns, and right of center folks that have been demonetized, its fundamentally everyone, except for a very few channels. Did YouTube, and Google, seed the market by paying content creators huge sums to seed the market and kill competitors? they did, its the Google way. But the problem people are pointing at is asymptotic of the actual problem.