For more than a year, a strange thing has been happening to Prager University's YouTube videos. These popular videos convey a conservative message on topics from Israel to health care to gender issues.
Dozens of its videos have been flagged as "restricted" on YouTube.
Now some conservatives (and liberals alike) have been calling for companies like Google, Facebook, and YouTube to be regulated as utilities, or public media. That means applying all kinds of fairness and equal access tests to ensure they aren't biased against particular groups. That's exactly the wrong approach.
On YouTube, PragerU has over a million subscribers, and hundreds of videos. "Restricted" mode is used by public libraries, educations institutions and many parents to filter videos that are inappropriate for younger people. But that's exactly for whom the videos are made.
Now PragerU has filed suit, alleging discrimination, against YouTube and its parent, Google (part of the Alphabet Inc. family). They are seeking to force YouTube to unrestrict 37 videos. That's the right way to handle this.
“It’s David versus Goliath,” PragerU CEO Marissa Streit said in an interview Tuesday with The College Fix.
“This was a very difficult decision for us. We are not as wealthy and big and powerful as Google,” Streit said. “We are not only doing this for PragerU, we are really doing this for America, and even the world.”
PragerU is accusing YouTube of illegal discrimination against them for their conservative perspective. They cite examples of videos from left-leaning producers that are also targeted at young people, which do not bear any restrictions. YouTube, under pressure from liberals, even reversed restrictions on controversial LGBT videos.
“The lawsuit is about discrimination,” Streit said. “We just want to be treated the way other channels and other producers are treated.”
The restrictions do not appear to be against the videos themselves--if other users repost a PragerU video it remains unrestricted--but against PragerU's account.
Though Google is certainly a Goliath, PragerU has a pretty talented legal team behind its suit.
Former Gov. Pete Wilson's law firm is representing PragerU, with Alan Dershowitz advising.
"We have a strong case and we have an amazing counsel," Streit told The College Fix.
If PragerU wins, it could free up hundreds of videos that have similarly been marked with the "restricted" flag. Christian academic and author Dr. Michael Brown has battled Google over content restrictions.
Google also "demonetized" hundreds of thousands of videos by conservatives dealing with certain topics, especially God. Brown had "the vast majority of our 900+ videos" demonetized. That's not part of the lawsuit, but it does demonstrate Google's sensitivity to left-wing advertisers who don't want their names associated with conservative content.
We don't need more regulation. We don't need to allow the government to write rules for markets that in ten years will have evolved to new companies and new challenges. This is not the phone system from 100 years ago. Twenty years ago, Google was a raw startup, while Twitter and Facebook didn't even exist. AOL was king then, and now AOL is no more.
In twenty years, we don't know what companies and technologies we'll be dealing with. But what we do know is that government cannot adapt as fast as business.
Finally, we also know that any regulations the federal government writes end up getting challenged in federal court. And federal court challenges typically--eventually--end up at the Supreme Court. The massive growth of federal regulations and control has already given nine black-robed justices almost dictatorial power (Erick said Justice Kennedy has crowned himself king--I'm paraphrasing).
Do we really want to give them more power over us?
At the same time, we really need Google to stop its blatant discrimination. The proper place for that argument is in civil court. That's where PragerU has chosen to take its fight. Kudos to them and let's hope they win.