Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Should Conservatives Sue Private Media Companies Over Content?

 

The WSJ has the story:

Prager University, a nonprofit that produces short, educational videos from conservative perspectives, is suing YouTube and its parent company, Google, claiming the tech giant is illegally censoring some of its content as part of a wider effort to silence conservative voices.

A lawsuit filed Monday evening in federal court in San Francisco says YouTube’s more than 30 million visitors a day make the site so elemental to free speech in the digital age that it should be treated as a public forum. The suit argues the site must use the “laws governing free speech,” not its own discretion, to make decisions about what to censor.

The nonprofit, known as PragerU, alleges that by limiting access to some of its videos without clear criteria YouTube is infringing on PragerU’s First Amendment rights. [emphasis added]

So a conservative organization is demanding that the government override the private-property rights of a private media company, and instead treat this private media outlet like a government organization? A conservative plaintiff is saying that?

And these “conservatives” are also insisting that a private company be required to meet the “First Amendment” standards of public entities?

I wonder how the folks at Hillsdale College feel about that? Or Liberty University? Or Chick-Fil-A?

I’m thinking that private companies should have control of how they run their businesses, up to the point that they are directly endangering others.

On the other hand….

As I said on the podcast today, this is a tough call because 67 percent of Americans really do get their news via Facebook. Newspapers call it “the real front page,” the place where most of their customers access the news content. YouTube is the portal for video content that millions of people in the real world actually use. So while libertarian ideals sound great, in fact if YouTube does shove conservative content onto the back shelves, the practical impact is very real. The Right is already getting our head handed to us in popular culture (and not even trying to fight back). Getting marginalized on YouTube on top of that is very troubling.

So which comes first: The conservative principles of private property and individual choice, or the political survival instincts for ideas that could literally die in darkness?

I look forward to hearing what the Ricovanchists think!

There are 72 comments.

  1. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    What’s at stake here? Free speech or responsibility? Because in the end it’s always a question of liability.

    Under US regulations there’s something referred to as “common carrier” status that indemnifies private owners from being legally responsible for illegal acts carried out on their property. If you are scammed over the telephone it’s the caller that’s responsible, not the phone company. If an illegal transaction takes place on the phone, a drug deal deal or even a plot of murder, the carrier is not responsible since it carries all voice communication regardless of its content.

    In 2015, the FCC granted common carrier status to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), but not to individual web sites. That puts Google/YouTube at legal risk. They can be sued for carrying anything – from Jihadists bomb making videos to Evangelical sermons to calls for world wide communist revolution. And every idea has its opponents.

    • #1
    • October 24, 2017, at 12:44 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  2. Polyphemus Coolidge

    EJHill (View Comment):
    What’s at stake here? Free speech or responsibility? Because in the end it’s always a question of liability.

    Under US regulations there’s something referred to as “common carrier” status that indemnifies private owners from being legally responsible for illegal acts carried out on their property. If you are scammed over the telephone it’s the caller that’s responsible, not the phone company. If an illegal transaction takes place on the phone, a drug deal deal or even a plot of murder, the carrier is not responsible since it carries all voice communication regardless of its content.

    In 2015, the FCC granted common carrier status to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), but not to individual web sites. That puts Google/YouTube at legal risk. They can be sued for carrying anything – from Jihadists bomb making videos to Evangelical sermons to calls for world wide communist revolution. And every idea has its opponents.

    So, maybe the solution is to grant “common carrier” status to web sites? What woudl be the risks of that? It would get Pirate Bay, etc (too late for Napster) off the hook, I guess. The recording and motion picture industries would not like that but that sounds like a feature not a bug. Or maybe it doesn’t affect copyright at all. Might be hard to separate those concerns but it is probably do-able isn’t it?

    Anyway, what would be the downside to granting protection from legal risk to sites deemed to be platforms for expression and speech?

    • #2
    • October 24, 2017, at 12:52 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  3. Dad Dog Member

    I’m a former professional journalist, with a journalism degree from one of the country’s top “J-schools.” I am now an attorney, with a particular interest in matters involving Constitutional Law. And, I’m a big supporter (and frequent Facebook sharer) of PragerU’s videos.

    And . . . I think PragerU is all wrong on this. The ends do not justify the means. If PragerU really believes in the conservative principles it espouses, it should practice what it preaches.

    Maybe I’m whistling past the graveyard, but I still think there are other (e.g., economic) ways to get the attention of YouTube and Facebook.

    • #3
    • October 24, 2017, at 12:54 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  4. Dorrk Member

    No, this is essentially Prager demanding that Youtube bake him a cake.

    However, what the lawsuit will do, when it does and should fail, is bring attention to:

    1. A bias that Youtube would prefer not to air publicly, diminishing its brand and creating pressure to remove that bias; and
    2. The issue of private businesses operating according to their conscience, maybe even setting a precedent that will benefit bakers and other small business owners.
    • #4
    • October 24, 2017, at 12:58 PM PDT
    • 17 likes
  5. Dad Dog Member

    Dorrk (View Comment):
    No, this is essentially Prager demanding that Youtube bake them a cake.

    Wish I’d said that.

    • #5
    • October 24, 2017, at 1:00 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  6. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    If conservatives want to petition Youtube or Facebook to be more even-handed, that is fine. But bringing government into this is the wrong course. If courts can tell Youtube and Facebook what to carry, eventually they will get around to other sites that we like as they are. Most network TV news shows are probably biased to the left but I don’t want government giving them orders either. PragerU wants to hand the hen house keys to the foxes.

    • #6
    • October 24, 2017, at 1:02 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. Cato Rand Coolidge

    I heard you discuss this on the podcast and was looking forward to commenting. I do understand the temptation. When I look around now it feels like an awful lot of the national conversation is being supervised by these gigantic companies – Google, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter – that are controlled by people who suffer from the leftist certainty that history is on their side, science is on their side, they’re the vanguard, etc., etc., etc.

    I think, though, that living in a free society and being committed to freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, etc. requires taking sort of a daily leap of faith – faith in the marketplace of ideas, faith in the ultimate wisdom of large numbers, faith in the power of markets to bring forth not only good ideas but good products and platforms.

    Google, Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter did not exist 20 years ago, and their present place in the firmament is not assured, however much they may seem dominant at the moment. There was a time not long ago when CBS, NBC and ABC were the monopolists of information and now they’ve been knocked from that perch, not least because they abused their position to a degree.

    Individual freedom has a way of bringing forth alternatives. Trust in that, and look forward to the comeuppance which will surely come through free choices made by individual citizens in a market economy.

    • #7
    • October 24, 2017, at 1:04 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  8. Cato Rand Coolidge

    Dad Dog (View Comment):

    Dorrk (View Comment):
    No, this is essentially Prager demanding that Youtube bake them a cake.

    Wish I’d said that.

    So do I. Brilliant analogy.

    • #8
    • October 24, 2017, at 1:11 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. Annefy Member

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Dad Dog (View Comment):

    Dorrk (View Comment):
    No, this is essentially Prager demanding that Youtube bake them a cake.

    Wish I’d said that.

    So do I. Brilliant analogy.

    Almost. For someone who needs/wants a cake has many options. Not so with Facebook and YouTube. Jordan Peterson recently lost access to his YouTube account and all his gmail. I believe Dave Ruben and Diamond and Silk had their videos demonetized on YouTube

    I think Prager’s action is not perfect but I don’t know what his and other’s options are.

    • #9
    • October 24, 2017, at 1:24 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    This is a common problem with all kinds of platforms. It’s like competitors leaving nasty reviews on Yelp. Lefties do that to Prager videos because they don’t want any competition to their indoctrination efforts. So they leave nasty marks on Prager’s objectively inoffensive videos (unless you object to truth) and get them put in the Restricted category so kids with parental controls can’t see them. It’s pernicious.

    I say more freedom of expression. YouTube is a channel provider, not an arbiter of content. Used to be we all knew objectionable material when we saw it, but the Left has effectively attacked and destroyed common standards. The price for having PragerU have wide availability may be having a judge decide. God help us.

    • #10
    • October 24, 2017, at 1:25 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. Tutti Member

    It is a dilemma.

    I’ve watched many of the Prager videos and found them enlightening. I haven’t found any that would fit YouTube’s “Inappropriate” criteria.

    Yet, as a private entity, I guess YouTube should be able to reject content they don’t like.

    That being said, are conservatives being forced to the fringes because we play by the rules while progressives (who own the majority of the media outlets) run roughshod over us?

    • #11
    • October 24, 2017, at 1:27 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  12. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Polyphemus: It would get Pirate Bay, etc (too late for Napster) off the hook, I guess. The recording and motion picture industries would not like that but that sounds like a feature not a bug.

    Part of the deal with the ISPs was complying with the DMCA regs and copyrighted works.

    • #12
    • October 24, 2017, at 1:35 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Cato Rand Coolidge

    Tutti (View Comment):
    It is a dilemma.

    I’ve watched many of the Prager videos and found them enlightening. I haven’t found any that would fit YouTube’s “Inappropriate” criteria.

    Yet, as a private entity, I guess YouTube should be able to reject content they don’t like.

    That being said, are conservatives being forced to the fringes because we play by the rules while progressives (who own the majority of the media outlets) run roughshod over us?

    Somebody earlier made the useful point that Prager is exposing Youtube even if he’s going to lose. I can certainly support his bringing their behavior to light so that the marketplace can punish them in whatever way it chooses. Look at the NFL. Sunlight, as they say, is the best disinfectant.

    • #13
    • October 24, 2017, at 1:37 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  14. I Walton Member

    There are issues here we must figure out. These digital entities enjoy infinite economies of scale so market forces don’t operate the same. There is no upward sloping supply curve. We don’t want them regulated by the government because they will capture the regulators and design controls that protect their growing monopolies. There may be a place for citizen groups and the courts, or there may be some legal framework, a digital Glass Steagall act that assures easy entrance to the content market by separating delivery from production.

    • #14
    • October 24, 2017, at 1:45 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. HerrForce1 Member
    HerrForce1 Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    YouTube’s ubiquity makes it seem like a public entity such as a street or phone line. But, as others have mentioned, it’s a privately held enterprise. Aside from the First Amendment debate, couldn’t someone finance another platform on which to post content like Prager’s? It wouldn’t be as convenient as YouTube access, but doesn’t freedom of the marketplace allow for this?

    • #15
    • October 24, 2017, at 1:51 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  16. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    HerrForce1 (View Comment):
    YouTube’s ubiquity makes it seem like a public entity such as a street or phone line. But, as others have mentioned, it’s a privately held enterprise. Aside from the First Amendment debate, couldn’t someone finance another platform on which to post content like Prager’s? It wouldn’t be as convenient as YouTube access, but doesn’t freedom of the marketplace allow for this?

    Right. People tend to assume that whoever is the market leader today will be the market leader in perpetuity. At one time Sears had the market reach of today’s Walmart and Amazon. For decades now Sears has been dismissed as the fallen retail king. Nobody knows who will be the king of retail in 2050 and no one knows what will happen in cyberspace either. Anyone remember when America Online was the 800 pound gorilla of internet providers? Now if you still have an AOL e-mail address people make fun of you. Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube are today’s digital champions but that doesn’t mean they cannot be replaced.

    • #16
    • October 24, 2017, at 2:00 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  17. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    There’s no reason that there can’t be more right-leaning websites that have some of the same features and user experiences as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. It’s just a matter of will…and money. Why are wealthy conservatives mired in old media like newspapers, television and radio?

    • #17
    • October 24, 2017, at 2:08 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  18. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Brian Watt: Why are wealthy conservatives mired in old media like newspapers, television and radio?

    Because efficiency is still where it’s at. What gives you the reach at the least cost? The web is also the tune out medium. Incoming messages are too easily filtered out.

    • #18
    • October 24, 2017, at 2:23 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. Guruforhire Member

    https://ricochet.com/445900/the-gathering-storm-the-future-doesnt-include-you/

    The article towards the bottom at slatestarcodex is really good. The problem is that creating a conservative ghetto is actively harmful to the ability of the country to understand itself.

    • #19
    • October 24, 2017, at 2:26 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  20. George Townsend Inactive

    Dad Dog (View Comment):
    I’m a former professional journalist, with a journalism degree from one of the country’s top “J-schools.” I am now an attorney, with a particular interest in matters involving Constitutional Law. And, I’m a big supporter (and frequent Facebook sharer) of PragerU’s videos.

    And . . . I think PragerU is all wrong on this. The ends do not justify the means. If PragerU really believes in the conservative principles it espouses, it should practice what it preaches.

    Maybe I’m whistling past the graveyard, but I still think there are other (e.g., economic) ways to get the attention of YouTube and Facebook.

    I am not a lawyer. The closest I’ve ever gotten to a lawsuit is almost being on a jury (I escaped being picked each time). But I totally agree with Dad Dog.

    I hardly ever question people’s motive, but I think that Dennis is not upset by the publicity this suit is getting. Nor is he upset by getting more noticed with his stand-by-Trump-no-matter-what attitude on his radio show. He seems to be only thinking of himself with this lawsuit.

    And this is why it is so dangerous. What if he wins? How can Goggle then stop ISIS, or any other evil entity, from saying anything it wants on their sites? A precedent, I believe, will have been set.

    I have no brief for Google at all. They fired that guy just for trying to start a discussion. Remember? But they have to be persuaded to do the right thing. Not forced to by the government.

    Dennis Prager, and all of his crew behind this suit, should be ashamed. This is not a close call, Michael.

    • #20
    • October 24, 2017, at 2:27 PM PDT
    • Like
  21. Dad Dog Member

    But, then, there’s this.

    • #21
    • October 24, 2017, at 2:40 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Brian Watt: Why are wealthy conservatives mired in old media like newspapers, television and radio?

    Because efficiency is still where it’s at. What gives you the reach at the least cost? The web is also the tune out medium. Incoming messages are too easily filtered out.

    Other than the FoxNews channel how’s that working out?

    • #22
    • October 24, 2017, at 2:41 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  23. I Walton Member

    HerrForce1 (View Comment):
    YouTube’s ubiquity makes it seem like a public entity such as a street or phone line. But, as others have mentioned, it’s a privately held enterprise. Aside from the First Amendment debate, couldn’t someone finance another platform on which to post content like Prager’s? It wouldn’t be as convenient as YouTube access, but doesn’t freedom of the marketplace allow for this?

    This is why I mention above the infinite economies of scale. Japan nearly destroyed our semi conductor companies because it enjoyed incredible economies of scale. To make one semi conductor cost a billion dollars each, to make a billion, they cost a dollar each. We ceded the low tech assembly to them, TV’s radios etc. but that meant they were the buyers and used that power to favor Japanese suppliers eventually got better at it than our companies and they were wiping us out until we intervened and made them buy from us. The media entities enjoy even greater economies of scale and can’t be solved so easily by market forces and will capture regulators so it’s a real dilemma we must confront.

    • #23
    • October 24, 2017, at 2:44 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  24. GroovinDrJarvis Inactive

    Brian Watt (View Comment):
    There’s no reason that there can’t be more right-leaning websites that have some of the same features and user experiences as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. It’s just a matter of will…and money. Why are wealthy conservatives mired in old media like newspapers, television and radio?

    Because they hate millennials and are suspicious of technology.

    • #24
    • October 24, 2017, at 2:48 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. Anamcara Member

    @Amefy

    I agree with all your points. Also, I’ve been devouring the Jordan Peterson lectures and interviews on You Tube. I have the most confidence in the conservative opposition he is mounting.

    • #25
    • October 24, 2017, at 2:49 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. Stina Member

    Brian Watt (View Comment):
    There’s no reason that there can’t be more right-leaning websites that have some of the same features and user experiences as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. It’s just a matter of will…and money. Why are wealthy conservatives mired in old media like newspapers, television and radio?

    They are conservative?

    • #26
    • October 24, 2017, at 3:15 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Brian Watt: Other than the FoxNews channel how’s that working out?

    I don’t think it makes a difference, really. We should have been fighting in the school boards and the college campuses decades ago. The problem is not if we tweet, Facebook or use traditional media. It’s that we ran from the fight when it mattered and where it was being fought.

    • #27
    • October 24, 2017, at 3:15 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  28. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Brian Watt: Other than the FoxNews channel how’s that working out?

    I don’t think it makes a difference, really. We should have been fighting in the school boards and the college campuses decades ago. The problem is not if we tweet, Facebook or use traditional media. It’s that we ran from the fight when it mattered and where it was being fought.

    Yes, the retreat has been on all fronts. But the products of public school education now manage social media sites. America and capitalism are dirty words. Free speech is violence. Socialism, equity of outcome, Climate Alarmism, universal income, militant LGBTQ++++++ indoctrination get preferential treatment not only in the public school system and on college campuses but also on social media and even on crowdfunding sites. The social media behemoths are some of the most profitable companies on the planet. The fight needs to occur in all venues of the culture. Throwing up one’s hands and bemoaning that the fight in schools and colleges is over and that social media has minimal impact is negligible demonstrates a lack of resolve and focus. Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson or The Five will not be enough to redirect the Leftist direction of the culture. The technology and the social media tools are there waiting to be developed and the more conservative-minded are pathetically calling upon the federal government to guarantee them a voice. Sad.

    • #28
    • October 24, 2017, at 3:29 PM PDT
    • Like
  29. Stina Member

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Brian Watt: Other than the FoxNews channel how’s that working out?

    I don’t think it makes a difference, really. We should have been fighting in the school boards and the college campuses decades ago. The problem is not if we tweet, Facebook or use traditional media. It’s that we ran from the fight when it mattered and where it was being fought.

    Yes, the retreat has been on all fronts. But the products of public school education now manage social media sites. America and capitalism are dirty words. Free speech is violence. Socialism, equity of outcome, Climate Alarmism, universal income, militant LGBTQ++++++ indoctrination get preferential treatment not only in the public school system and on college campuses but also on social media and even on crowdfunding sites. The social media behemoths are some of the most profitable companies on the planet. The fight needs to occur in all venues of the culture. Throwing up one’s hands and bemoaning that the fight in schools and colleges is over and that social media has minimal impact is negligible demonstrates a lack of resolve and focus. Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson or The Five will not be enough to redirect the Leftist direction of the culture. The technology and the social media tools are there waiting to be developed and the more conservative-minded are pathetically calling upon the federal government to guarantee them a voice. Sad.

    School choice and conservative teachers, school board, and administration can be a start.

    Reverse converge and SJW the sjws.

    • #29
    • October 24, 2017, at 3:33 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  30. Michael Graham Podcaster
    Michael Graham

    Thank you, THANK YOU for this terrific conversation! I’ll be stealin…er “sharing some of your most brilliant insights without attribution” on tomorrow morning’s podcast. They hit around 7am eastern every weekday morning, just FYI.

    • #30
    • October 24, 2017, at 3:35 PM PDT
    • 3 likes