Conservative non-profit PragerU is facing off with tech giant YouTube in court on Friday over the platform’s continued restriction of dozens of PragerU videos that the nonprofit says has far more to do with ideology than any supposedly “neutral” criteria imposed by YouTube.
Ahead of the legal showdown, PragerU has figured out a creative way to give the public — and YouTube employees — a chance to see some of the videos the platform has decided to restrict from children and others.
As the organization announced in a Facebook post this week, PragerU will be driving a box truck with giant LED screens around Silicon Valley on Thursday to promote its content and its cause. Organizers of the mobile screening say they plan to spend a lot of time directly in front of the YouTube headquarters as well HQs of some other big tech companies.
In an interview with PJ Media Tuesday, PragerU’s Chief Marketing Officer Craig Strazzeri summarized the plan of action and their rationale for rolling out the LED screen-covered truck.
“We rented a box truck with LED video screens on the side and we’re going to be playing all the PragerU videos that YouTube has restricted,” Strazzeri told the outlet. The plan, he said, will be to buzz the towers of industry giants Google, Twitter, and Facebook ahead of their big day in court Friday.
“It’s obvious that our videos are educational and appropriate for young people,” he said, countering YouTube’s defense that they are applying a consistent standard for restricting content.
“All young people should be watching our videos,” Strazzeri added. “We do hope that lots of people will be given the chance to see our videos.”
The restricted video truck stunt, Strazzeri suggested, is part of their effort to not just win in California court but “win in the court of public opinion.”
The case that kicks off Friday is one of two lawsuits — one state-level and the other federal — PragerU has brought against Google/YouTube related to the restriction of its educational content. The federal case was heard by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in August and is still awaiting a verdict.
The state-level case provides the nonprofit a chance to level additional complaints regarding breach of contract and consumer fraud.
PragerU maintains that YouTube handles their content differently than other publishers, unfairly limiting the reach of some videos by designating them as restricted. The organization’s consumer fraud complaint stems from their contention that YouTube promises to be an ideologically and politically neutral platform but instead allows bias to influence how it treats content and publishers. Tyler O’Neil summarizes the case:
In the California case, PragerU brought four separate claims against Google and YouTube: that the companies violated the free speech protections of Article 1 Section 2 of the California Constitution; that they violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act by engaging in political and viewpoint discrimination against PragerU; that they violated the state’s business code through unfair competition; and that they breached the implied terms of their contract.
Over 80 of PragerU’s videos have been “restricted” and over 40 have been demonetized by the platform. The nature and specifics of the content, PragerU says, do not warrant such action and similar content online that has not be restricted or demonetized is evidence of viewpoint discrimination and unfair practices.