The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed a lawsuit filed against YouTube and its parent company Google, for alleged First Amendment violations.
Prager University (PragerU), a nonprofit educational and media organization that espouses right-wing views, sued YouTube in October 2017 after the company either restricted or removed third-party ads on some of its videos. The videos included,“Is Islam a Religion of Peace?,” “What’s Holding the Arab World Back?,” and “The World’s Most Persecuted Minorities: Christians.”
In its complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, PragerU argued that YouTube is a public forum, and as such, cannot restrict speech. “Google/YouTube have represented that their platforms and services are intended to effectuate the exercise free speech among the public. As applied to PragerU, Google/YouTube use their restricted mode filtering not to protect younger or sensitive viewers from ‘inappropriate’ video content, but as a political gag mechanism to silence PragerU,” reads the complaint.
In March of 2018, the federal district court dismissed the suit, so PragerU filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit.
On February 26th, the federal appeals court dismissed the suit, saying that despite YouTube’s “ubiquity and its role as a public-facing forum, it remains a private forum, not a public forum subject to judicial scrutiny under the First Amendment.”