For years PragerU has done a remarkable job of producing conservative themed videos and distributing them online. They have done this despite being shadowbanned, deboosted, demonetized, and often having their videos either removed or accompanied with content warnings.
Nearly ten years ago PragerU, recognizing the threat that YouTube could cancel their videos at any time, figured out how to produce and host their own videos independent of YouTube. But the platform they chose, JW Player, has now terminated the relationship, claiming “PragerU’s content is misleading.” They provided no examples. They provided no explanation.
As reported in ReclaimTheNet.org, “JW has many irons in that big profit fire: it has deals with the likes of ESPN, Electronic Arts, and AT&T. It also heavily features outlets like Vice and the Young Turks. Compared to that, what does it matter to it, in this day and age, to ‘cancel’ PragerU’s content via an ‘updated community guidelines’ policy?”
Any impartial observer who has watched all three of these content providers, that is, Vice, the Young Turks, and PragerU, will have a tough time understanding why PragerU was singled out. Vice and the Young Turks have a liberal bias, PragerU has a conservative bias. But if anything, PragerU has content that is less misleading than Vice or the Young Turks.
PragerU’s offense wasn’t that they went too close to the line separating fact from fiction, or honest commentary from misleading commentary. Their crime is that they were too good at making a case for conservative values.
A few years ago, in response to the ongoing harassment of PragerU, Billy Binion, an “assistant editor” at Reason, published an article entitled “PragerU Does Not Understand Censorship.” In this article, the author claims that because PragerU hasn’t been banned completely from platforms, they aren’t being censored. His logic is that since PragerU has established a robust online presence despite being suppressed at every turn, somehow this excuses the fact that they’ve been suppressed. Perhaps Billy Binion, Reason, and libertarians in general are the ones that “don’t understand censorship.” To use a metaphor, there is “torture” and there is “murder.” But both are forms of abuse. To say someone wasn’t abused because they weren’t murdered is the logic that Binion employs. It’s ridiculous.
The real problem with Binion’s reasoning comes down to this comment he makes “But Twitter’s advertising policies have nothing to do with the First Amendment, which protects PragerU from government action—not from the decisions of a private company.”
Twitter. Facebook. YouTube. Spotify. Apple. Google. WordPress. Bank of America. The list is long and growing. Now, add JW Player to that list. They’re all “private companies.” And if libertarians had their way, private companies would take over the world. Oops. Libertarians are having their way.
A balanced political observation might be to recognize that government protects us from private company’s abusing their power. Recognizing this doesn’t make us “socialists.” If private companies are allowed to control communications, much less squeeze the public space into smaller and smaller corners, then the Bill of Rights, all of them, have little meaning.
Here’s the danger: “You’re on private property. You will say what we want you to say, you will do what we tell you to do, or we will evict you.” Sound familiar? Put on your mask when you board a plane owned by a private company, or when you step into a superstore owned by a private company. It doesn’t matter what the CDC has told us, not that they’re terribly reliable.
But we digress. PragerU is a victim of censorship. And it’s yet another form of censorship, where the owners of the actual software and hosting companies deny service. No shirt, no shoes, no liberal bias, no service. Good luck to PragerU. And Reason? Wake up. You’re not helping.
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