PragerU, a nonprofit educational website, has filed a lawsuit accusing Google and its subsidiary YouTube of censoring its video content because of its conservative political leanings.
Founded in 2011 by conservative talk show host Dennis Prager, the company filed the lawsuit Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
PragerU claims in the lawsuit that YouTube has restricted more than 30 of its videos, labeling some as “inappropriate.” That has prevented the company from collecting ad revenue and blocked viewers who have certain parental settings.
“One need only compare the censored PragerU videos with those that are produced by speakers with different political identities or viewpoints to understand just how arbitrary and discriminatory Google/YouTube’s conduct is,” PragerU says in a lawsuit.
Google did not respond to an email request for comment.
PragerU denies that the videos are improper or violate any of YouTube’s policies. It says the “inappropriate” designation falsely and unfairly stigmatizes the site.
The list of restricted videos include titles such as “Are 1 in 5 women raped in college?” “Born to hate Jews” and “Is Islam a religion of peace?”
The website alleges that other videos discussing the same issues by Al-Jazeera, BuzzFeed, Bill Maher and the History Channel are not censored, despite some of those talks containing profanity or graphic depictions of mature content.
Former California Gov. Pete Wilson, now with the law firm of Browne George Ross, is among the attorneys representing PragerU. He compared YouTube’s actions to the censorship of conservative speakers on college campuses.
“What they are doing is essentially doing on a broader scale what colleges and universities have done when they’ve forbidden conservative speakers, and that is the ultimate censorship,” Mr. Wilson said in an interview. “It’s outrageous.”
PragerU’s lawsuit alleges that YouTube’s content policies are vague and lack an objective criteria, allowing the company to justify censorship based on a speaker’s conservative viewpoint.
This is the not the first time YouTube and Google have come under fire from conservatives alleging their videos have been restricted because of political leanings. Diamond and Silk, two African-American women who gained fame with pro-Donald Trump YouTube videos during the 2016 election, claimed the video-sharing service barred them from collecting ad revenue on their content.
The lawsuit asks the court to declare that Google and YouTube have violated PragerU’s free speech rights, issue an injunction blocking the companies from censoring or demonetizing or otherwise restricting its content and award monetary damages.