by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Last week, the Wall Street Journal wrote the following editorial about YouTube restricting access to 16 videos — down from 21 — created and posted online by my non-profit educational organization, Prager University: “YouTube thinks Dennis Prager’s videos may be dangerous.”
Tech giants like Google and Facebook always deny that their platforms favor some viewpoints over others, but then they don’t do much to avoid looking censorious. . . .
Dennis Prager’s “PragerU” puts out free short videos on subjects “important to understanding American values” — ranging from the high cost of higher education to the motivations of Islamic State. The channel has more than 130 million views. . . . As you might guess, the mini-seminars do not include violence or sexual content.
But more than 15 videos are “restricted” on YouTube. . . . This means the clips don’t show up for those who have turned on filtering — say, a parent shielding their children from explicit videos. A YouTube spokesperson told us that the setting is optional and “based on algorithms that look at a number of factors, including community flagging on videos.” . . .
… It is a good sign that Google/YouTube’s censorship of respectful, utterly non-violent and non-sexual videos made it to the Wall Street Journal editorial page. It is very bad sign that it had to.
And it is a very bad sign that it made the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, but not the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, or any other mainstream newspaper that still purports to support the classic liberal value of free speech. …
… Obviously, then, the explanation is not algorithms that catch violence and sex. Rather, Google/YouTube doesn’t want effective (each video has at least 1 million views) conservative videos. Does that mean that it has left-wing censors looking for every widely viewed conservative video? They don’t have to. Left-wing viewers simply “flag” our and others’ videos as inappropriate, and YouTube does the rest.