A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit by content creators who accused YouTube of restricting or de-monetizing videos based on racial identity and viewpoint.
In an 11-page decision issued Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in the Northern District of California ruled that even if the allegations in the complaint were proven true, they wouldn't show that YouTube violated its community guidelines by discriminating based on race.
“The general idea that YouTube’s algorithm could discriminate based on race is certainly plausible. But the allegations in this particular lawsuit do not come close to suggesting that the plaintiffs have experienced such discrimination,” Chhabria wrote.
Chhabria previously dismissed other claims that YouTube violated the content creators' First Amendment rights on the grounds that only the government is bound by the First Amendment's prohibition against censorship.
The new ruling grows out of a lawsuit brought in 2020 by YouTube user Kimberly Carleste Newman and other content creators who alleged the video sharing service suppressed or de-monetized videos with titles like “black lives matter,” “racism,” and “white supremacy.”
Newman and the others alleged in their initial complaint that the company uses artificial intelligence, algorithms and other filtering tools “to limit or prevent revenue generation from videos based on racial identity or viewpoint.”
They later amended their complaint to allege that a Google employee admitted at a September 14, 2017 meeting that YouTube's algorithm “discriminated against certain groups, including LGBTQ+, African American, and other users of color or vulnerable minorities.”
Google denied that an employee made that admission.
Chhabria said in Thursday's ruling that the allegations regarding the 2017 meeting “are not meaningless,” but added that they were “vague as to what exactly was said.”
He also said the alleged admissions “do not directly concern any of the plaintiffs or their videos.”
The dismissal was with prejudice, meaning the users can't amend their claims and bring them again.