Google is asking a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit by content creators who claim YouTube engaged in race-based discrimination by restricting and de-monetizing videos that carry titles or tags like “Black lives matter,” “racism,” and “white supremacy.”
The content creators' claims “are false and unsupported by anything other than baseless rhetoric,” Google writes in papers filed Monday with U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California.
The company adds that the allegations in the complaint are too speculative to warrant further proceedings. “Plaintiffs’ conclusory assertions that defendants deliberately programmed YouTube’s algorithms to 'target' Plaintiffs or to flag videos based on race ... rest, at best, on plaintiffs’ guess about the reasons their videos were restricted or demonetized,” Google writes.
Google's motion comes in response to a lawsuit initially brought in June by four Black YouTube users who alleged the company uses artificial intelligence, algorithms and other filtering tools “to limit or prevent revenue generation from videos” based on racial identity or viewpoint. Other YouTube users, including Puerto Rican, and Mexican-American content creators, later joined the lawsuit.
The content creators' complaint includes a claim that Google is violating the First Amendment by engaging in “censorship.”
Google counters in its new court papers that the First Amendment only bars censorship by the government, as opposed to companies. Google points to a recent decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that Prager University couldn't proceed with claims that YouTube unconstitutionally de-monetized and restricted access to conservative clips. The court said in that case that Google isn't bound by the First Amendment's prohibition against suppressing speech.