The often-censored Prager University has been dropped from service by yet another technology company, apparently because of its conservative, pro-American educational videos that it says have attracted more than 5 billion views over 10 years.
New York-based JW Player, which claims to “have a global footprint of over 1 billion unique users,” kicked the nonprofit off its video hosting platform, while it continues to serve left-wing media outlets The Young Turks and Vice, which generate videos that, according to PragerU, divide the country and teach young people to resent America.
The move came after JW Player blindsided PragerU, claiming to have updated its “community guidelines,” after which it decided not to renew the annual service contract, claiming without providing any evidence that “PragerU’s content is misleading.”
“In true cowardly fashion, JW Player has refused to give us specifics and opted to hide behind third-party ‘fact-checkers’ to get rid of us,” Marissa Streit, CEO of PragerU, said in a statement.
Craig Strazzeri, PragerU’s chief marketing officer, elaborated in an interview.
In 2016, “YouTube really started censoring our videos and restricting hundreds of our videos,” he told The Epoch Times. “We decided we needed to gain some independence on our website.”
PragerU sued YouTube, and its parent company, Google, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in October 2017.
The lawsuit cited more than 50 PragerU videos that have either been restricted or demonetized by YouTube on various subjects presenting a conservative point of view, along with a video by Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz on the founding of Israel.
PragerU previously compiled a complete list of its restricted videos here, including “Why America Must Lead,” “The Ten Commandments: Do Not Murder,” “Why Did America Fight the Korean War,” and “The World’s Most Persecuted Minority: Christians.”
“This is speech discrimination plain and simple, censorship based entirely on unspecified ideological objection to the message or on the perceived identity and political viewpoint of the speaker,” PragerU lawyer Pete Wilson, a former governor of California, said at the time.
Strazzeri said the nonprofit found JW Player three years ago, which allowed PragerU to host videos natively on its own site and not have to rely on big tech companies.
“And we never had any issues until just a few months ago when they contacted us,” advising that as a result of a change in content guidelines PragerU was in violation of the company’s policies and would no longer be working with the nonprofit, he said.
“We have over 1,000 videos on our library and to be forced to transition … to an alternative in a very short timeframe was incredibly disruptive. And financially, it was expensive to do that … so it’s very disruptive, and it’s something the other side [i.e., the left] doesn’t have to deal with.”
It’s “really scary” that “these smaller independent companies” are now getting into the content moderation business, “restricting speech and opinions on issues,” he said.
“And their main goal is they don’t want conservative ideas to get out there.”
The tech company declined to be specific about what prompted the decision to drop PragerU as a client.
“JW Player has decided not to comment at this time,” company spokesperson Fatimah Nouilati told The Epoch Times via email.
Strazzeri said JW Player did tell PragerU that its decision was influenced by its “independent, fact-checking news companies, and one in particular named News Guard,” which gave the nonprofit a low credibility score.
The break with JW Player has led to users clicking on PragerU links on social media and being greeted with “a disclaimer saying News Guard says, ‘This is not a very credible source,’ PragerU, so be careful and go at-your-own-risk type of messaging,” Strazzeri said.
Twitter allows PragerU to post but has banned it from running advertising without explaining why, he said.
At the same time, Facebook has been threatening for a year “to unpublish our page entirely,” claiming multiple community violations, based solely on “third-party left-wing fact-checkers who are targeting our content and flagging them as misleading or false despite us having facts and sources to back up every claim that we’ve ever made.”
Facebook ignores PragerU’s complaints, Strazzeri said. “We appeal every single one, and then nothing happens,” he said.
“So the fact-checkers are now the arbiters of truth of the internet. And that’s a really dangerous and scary thought.”
Something has to be done about the social media censorship problem, he said.
“We think we need to fight from every angle, we need to fight legally, we need to fight in the court of public opinion, most importantly, because, unfortunately, because of the censorship, so many Americans don’t even know this is going on.
“We just want to see the censorship end. We want to see these platforms, stop silencing speech.
“We’d like to see go back to where it was 10 years ago, when all these big tech platforms started, they basically had very simple guidelines that prohibited violent content, and pornographic content. But anything else that was opinion-based, education-based, it would be unheard of 10 years ago, that that type of stuff would be blocked or censored.”