High-profile conservatives are accusing tech and social media giants Twitter, Google and YouTube of discrimination in a series of lawsuits against the organizations.
Republican political consultant Roger Stone and former Breitbart senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos are reportedly planning to file a lawsuit against Twitter in February.
Also, a Republican congressman is about to call for congressional hearings to probe alleged discrimination against conservatives by Twitter, YouTube, Google and others, the Hollywood Reporter revealed Thursday.
The news came just as WND reported explosive video released by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas revealed Twitter employees are willing to use their access to President Trump’s account to bring down the nation’s commander in chief.
Twitter employee Clay Haynes, who has worked at the company since 2016, spoke to an undercover journalist from Project Veritas on Jan. 3. Haynes, a self-declared “bleeding-heart liberal,” outlined specific ways the company could help take down the president, including providing every single tweet Trump has made, even those that have been deleted, as well as any direct messages. Direct messages are usually regarded as private. Haynes openly declared his desire to end the Trump administration.
In yet another video released by O’Keefe this week, former Twitter software employee Abhinov Vadrevu said Twitter has ways to ban users of its social-media platform without letting them know. It’s called “shadow banning,” and its frequently used against conservatives.
“One strategy is to shadow ban so you have ultimate control. The idea of a shadow ban is that you ban someone but they don’t know they’ve been banned, because they keep posting and no one sees their content. So they just think that no one is engaging with their content, when in reality, no one is seeing it,” he said.
See the conversation (Caution about offensive language in video):
Twitter released the following statement addressing the O’Keefe videos: “The individuals depicted in this video were speaking in a personal capacity and do not represent or speak for Twitter. We deplore the deceptive and underhanded tactics by which this footage was obtained and selectively edited to fit a pre-determined narrative. Twitter is committed to enforcing our rules without bias and empowering every voice on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter Rules.”
As for Stone, he told the Hollywood Reporter, “It is time for Twitter to be regulated like a public utility or perish.”
Twitter banned Stone from its platform in October, alleging his tweets to CNN reporters were harassing and threatening.
But Stone said the Twitter ban is clearly “hypocrisy.”
“Verified tweeters call for my murder online every day, but Twitter doesn’t ban them,” he said.
GotNews.com owner Charles Johnson announced just days ago that he is suing Twitter, which banned him from the platform permanently in 2015. He claims Twitter discriminated against him because of his political views and violated his free-speech rights. Johnson filed his lawsuit Monday in California Superior Court in Fresno.
“This is going to be a very serious case over the freedom of the Internet,” Johnson told Buzzfeed News.
He said he plans to meet with Republican U.S. Reps. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Ron DeSantis and representatives of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C., next week.
“The social-media giants fashion themselves utilities rather than monopolies. They’ve said so. But you don’t see the electric company stifling free speech,” Johnson said.
As WND reported Tuesday, James Damore, the Google employee who was fired after writing a memo accusing the tech giant of “alienating conservatives” at its Bay Area headquarters, filed a class-action lawsuit along with another former Google engineer, David Gudeman, for wrongful termination.
The suit, filed Monday in Santa Clara Superior Court in California, charges Google discriminated against them and other employees for their political views and for being white males.
“Damore, Gudeman, and other class members were ostracized, belittled, and punished for their heterodox political views, and for the added sin of their birth circumstances of being Caucasians and/or males,” the lawsuit alleges. “This is the essence of discrimination – Google formed opinions about and then treated Plaintiffs not based on their individual merits, but rather on their membership in groups with assumed characteristics.”
The complaint also provides evidence that Google managers developed “blacklists” of conservative employees with whom they wouldn’t work on any project.
It cites violation of the California labor code for, among other things, discriminating against an employee for engaging in political activities, threatening employees with termination as “a means of coercing or influencing employees’ political activities” and discrimination on the basis of gender or race.
The complaint states Google employees and managers “strongly preferred to hear the same orthodox opinions regurgitated repeatedly, producing an ideological echo chamber, a protected, distorted bubble of groupthink.”
“Google created an environment of protecting employees who harassed individuals who spoke out against Google’s view or the ‘Googley way,’ as it is sometimes known internally. Google employees knew they could harass Plaintiffs with impunity, given the tone set by managers – and they did so.”
The complaint alleges Google “employs illegal hiring quotas to fill its desired percentages of women and favored minority candidates, and openly shames managers of business units who fail to meet their quotas – in the process, openly denigrating male and Caucasian employees as less favored than others.”
Damore and Gudeman assert that not only “was the numerical presence of women celebrated at Google solely due to their gender, but the presence of Caucasians and males was mocked with ‘boos’ during company-wide weekly meetings.”
See James Damore’s interview with Tucker Carlson in August 2017:
As for the Google-owned YouTube.com, conservative Dennis Prager’s organization, Prager University, has sued the platform for listing more than 30 of its videos under “restricted mode,” limiting access to the videos for many users.
“YouTube does not want young people to hear conservative ideas,” PragerU states. “… Many families enable restricted mode in order to keep inappropriate and objectionable adult and sexual content away from their children — not to prevent them from watching animated, age-appropriate, educational videos.”
During his nationally syndicated radio show on Jan. 9, Prager ripped YouTube for labeling an educational video on the Korean War as “pornographic.”
“They censor videos that are not on the left. Anyone who watches our 40 videos will know that their censorship is ideologically driven,” Prager said, explaining that his organization isn’t after money from YouTube but is seeking to get the platform to fix its policy.
“I want people to understand how serious this is. If we lose, it means that the greatest contemporary vehicles for an open society are closed,” he said. “The censorship is from leftists, and liberals have to decide if they are liberals or leftists. The greatest threat to liberalism comes from the left.”
Prager has said the YouTube problem will be addressed in an upcoming documentary film, “No Safe Spaces.”
In his weekly column published at WND, Michael Brown recently detailed some of his own struggles with YouTube, which are separate from the Prager case. Brown said the site had flagged a number of his videos as “Not suitable for most advertisers,” including the following:
1) Videos dealing with homosexuality: “Testimony: Jackie Hill Perry on Being Saved out of a Homosexual Lifestyle,” “Mainstreaming Gay on Prime-Time TV”
2) Videos dealing with sexual ethics: “Why Mike Pence’s Sexual Ethics Make Good Christian Sense,” “The Death of Manson” and “Biblical Sexual Ethics Make Sense”
3) Videos dealing with abortion: “A Feminist Atheist and a Nun Agree on Abortion,” “Dr. Brown Sets the Record Straight on Pastor Carl Lentz and Abortion”
4) Videos dealing with conservative politics: “Judge Roy Moore’s Vision for America”
5) Videos critiquing the secular media: “Don Lemon, There’s a Reason We Pray”
6) Videos about Israel and the Jewish people: “Is Donald Trump Fulfilling Biblical Prophecy about Jerusalem?,” “Martin Luther and the Jews” and “Has Christianity ‘Replaced’ Judaism?”
7) Other, spiritually based videos: “An 11-Year-Old Caller Wants to Be Sure He Is Saved” and “A Time to Mourn” (reflections after the Texas church massacre)
YouTube later approved the above videos after a manual review, but Brown said it began flagging his videos again, including the following titles: “Dr. Brown Answers Your Questions,” “Answers to Your Questions,” “You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers,” “Dr. Brown Answers Your Questions Live on Black Friday,” “Dr. Brown Takes Your Calls and Responds to Some Critics,” “Are There Things God Can’t Do?,” “What Is a ‘Biblical’ Worldview?,” “Does God Promise to Deliver Us from Suffering?,” “Who Are the 144,000 in the Book of Revelation?,” “What Do Jewish Millennials Believe?” and “Does God Predestine People to Hell?”
“Unfortunately, on a practical level, the moment one of your videos is flagged, you no longer receive any income for it. And once you request a manual review, unless it’s viewed 1,000 times in a seven-day period, it will not be reviewed,” Brown explained.
“And since we post so many videos and have about 36,000 subscribers (as opposed to, say, one million subscribers), a number of these videos will not meet this threshold, and so they will never be reviewed. That means that there is the ongoing loss of important income that we would have immediately reinvested in our nonprofit ministry to help us produce more quality videos.
“I do remain hopeful that with enough pressure from enough people, YouTube will make a course correction and do the right thing.”