Congress’ Censorship-By-Proxy Probe Explores Government’s Role In New YouTube Policies
YouTube logo is displayed on a mobile phone screen for illustration photo. Krakow, Poland on February 9, 2023.
Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

House Republicans this week demanded documents from YouTube as part of an investigation into who pressured it to change its policies to prohibit certain videos involving guns.

The House Judiciary Committee and the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government wrote to lawyers for Alphabet, the parent company of Google and Youtube, saying that information suggests that “YouTube’s decision to change its firearms policy may have been influenced by government officials and third parties interested in suppressing certain Second Amendment-related content.”

On Tuesday, new YouTube policies went into effect pertaining to videos about firearms, saying that “certain content showing how to remove safety devices will be prohibited. Content showing the use of homemade firearms, automatic firearms, and certain firearm accessories will be age restricted.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the far-left prosecutor who targeted former President Donald Trump, said the change was “in response to advocacy” from his office.

The line of questioning highlights a pattern in which the government seemingly circumvents the First Amendment by manipulating private companies, who are not required to respect free speech in the same way the government is. 

Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said that documents obtained by the committee showed that “the federal government has pressured Alphabet to censor certain content, including content that did not violate YouTube’s content moderation policies.”

His letter says a subpoena issued in February 2023 compelled “Alphabet to produce communications between Alphabet and the Executive Branch, internal Alphabet communications discussing communications from the Executive Branch, and Alphabet communications with third parties that may have been working with the Executive Branch,” and that the subpoena was “continuing in nature.”

“To develop effective legislation, such as the possible enactment of new statutory limits on the Executive Branch’s ability to work with Big Tech to restrict the circulation of content and deplatform users, the Committee and the Select Subcommittee must first understand how and to what extent the Executive Branch coerced and colluded with companies and other intermediaries to censor speech,” it said.

YouTube did not immediately return a request for comment.

The Daily Wire and The Federalist are suing the State Department for a similar move, arguing that when the government uses private companies as its proxies, it is still violating the Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Jeremy D. Kernodle rejected early motions by the government, recalling that “if there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

The House Small Business Committee says the State Department is hiding records showing the extent of its ties to firms like NewsGuard and the Global Disinformation Index, which make lists of news outlets that are used as blacklists by advertisers.

The House Oversight Committee is also focused on NewsGuard, which has received federal money.

Jordan’s committee is also honed in on the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM), part of a trade group consisting of major companies that run advertisements, and which he says may have violated antitrust laws by having the companies coordinate to blacklist conservative news outlets.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Congress’ Censorship-By-Proxy Probe Explores Government’s Role In New YouTube Policies