Prager U: Legal Considerations

Prager University is the most widely viewed website that produces conservative content in the world. As a consequence of being so disproportionately influential, it follows that our methods to advance its cause be well thought out and periodically analyzed and improved. In an earlier iteration, the videos it created used photos in its illustrations and was promptly sued by an unknown photographer in Ireland. This misstep serves the organization in the long run because any digital platform should seek to avoid legal problems as early as possible. Even at that time, most experienced YouTubers understood the main regulations of YouTube – among them being the overriding importance of avoiding copyright infringement in pictures, embedded video or background music. Luckily, the company wised up to its mistakes but was forced to discard 80 videos and substantial capital investment as a result.

Following the admonition that a wise man learns from the mistakes of others, we should cultivate an informed source of legal advice regarding the use of social media. Relying on insight by lawyers, other content creators, former social media employees and the like should be a required step on the way to creating other social media channels. The consequences of violating YouTube’s terms of use can be significant – removing revenue generating channels with views in the millions is not uncommon. Since traditional opinions are currently so unpopular, this imposes an even greater responsibility on us to ensure that unforced errors do not give our opponents an opportunity to attack. This legal resource should also be proactive in keeping on top of changes in social media usage policies. Some users claim they were not even informed of updates in these guidelines. Not only can channels be suspended wrongfully, but there are anecdotal stories of channels not having the required ‘warning strikes’ before being terminated. Due to the gigantic number of views and channels these companies have to deal with, not every case will be reviewed with meticulous attention to detail. It is also reasonable to assume that since Silicon Valley – including YouTube’s parent company Google tends to support the Democratic Party, there would already be an inherent bias against dissenting views. Despite all this, social media still represents one of the most potent tools in spreading our message and should be utilized to the utmost.

In addition to the technical regulations of running a social media channel, there is also the nefarious assault on freedom of speech that has been spearheaded by the academic world. As this movement has grown, we should be wise to express our views on controversial topics in words that are accurate but elusive to media counter-attack. Seeing that conservatives represent a group holding a mirror to others stating “you are your own biggest problem”, it follows that much of our underlying assumptions are based on very difficult truths. Expressing these ideas should be done firmly, but respectfully. One misplaced statement can form the basis of a lawsuit or smear campaign by well-funded special interest groups. We can be assured that the same passion will not be directed to liberal commentators who make equally incendiary statements.

At the moment, Prager U is the victim of a high-profile wrongful censorship action. Despite multiple Wall Street Journal Editorials supporting the channel, YouTube continues to restrict at least 37 of their videos, or over 14 percent of their total video count. This blatant political-discrimination has been ongoing for over a year now and the almost 300,000 signatures in their anti-censorship petition have been ignored. Since the channel has been so meticulous in following the rules of YouTube, this wrongful action may be an opportunity to expose YouTube’s gross biases and embolden the case that legitimate political views are being unjustly suppressed. Ingenious ideas to launch a multi-layered protest against YouTube can be entertained. This and similar cases of ideological oppression may form the grounds for a broad-based appeal to include political speech under anti-discrimination laws. There have been compelling cases made against having anti-discrimination laws at all – but those arguments are at this point theoretical. Meaning, since these laws do in fact exist, conservatives have the option of either using them for their own purposes or employing other methods to accomplish similar objectives. Regardless of which option is chosen, it should be done by conscious decision and not be the result of our own ideology boxing us into self-imposed impotence. A conscious decision to avoid using federal laws enshrined for the foreseeable future can be analyzed and measured over time. Future reevaluations can be made on the basis of ongoing experience. On the other hand, we must be honest with ourselves when our philosophy puts us at a strategic disadvantage. Such gaps should never be the result of a blind-spot in our understanding, but should rather be a principled stand, fully recognizing that such choices will impose increasingly dire consequences upon us.

The 37 videos in question have been placed under YouTube’s ‘restricted mode’ which means the content will be unavailable in any institution with this filter turned on – for example libraries and schools. According to parent company Google, ‘restricted mode’ is reserved for content containing “drugs and alcohol, sexual situations, violence mature subjects, profane and mature language and incendiary and demeaning content.” Videos that match this description include titles like “Why America must lead”, “What’s wrong with Socialism” and “Israel’s legal founding”. Conservatives should quickly understand that facing injustices can be used to further one’s aims. By making this issue more widely known and imprinted deeper into the public consciousness, we will be able to maneuver ourselves into the moral offensive and make our opponent’s size and financial clout work against their own psychological disposition.

 

*Please Note: This blog has no affiliation with Prager U or any of its related organizations.*

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