PragerU, the prolifically popular creator of conservative video content run by radio host Dennis Prager, claims that it is being censored by big tech. The organization took to Twitter to announce that the platform had banned it from running ads.
We've been completely banned from advertising on @Twitter.
If that isn't the censorship of conservative speech, what is? https://t.co/ys8vomp89g
— PragerU (@prageru) July 27, 2019
Except that's not actually censorship. Far from it: A quick glance at the company's Twitter feed shows that it uses the platform to great advantage, with hundreds of thousands of followers and a bevy of tweets that drive mega-engagement. If PragerU was actually "censored" by Twitter, they would not have a Twitter platform at all.
The nonprofit, which is also prohibited from advertising on Spotify, has argued that such bans violate their right to free speech. But Twitter's advertising policies have nothing to do with the First Amendment, which protects PragerU from government action—not from the decisions of a private company.
"The @PragerU Twitter Ads account is ineligible to advertise on the Twitter Ads platform due to repeated violation of our Twitter Ads policies. The account may, however, continue to tweet organically as long as it complies with the Twitter Rules," a Twitter spokesperson told Fox News last month.
PragerU also has a beef with Google. Bizarrely, the conservative video-maker has accused the company of rigging internet search results to reflect poorly on PragerU.
— PragerU (@prageru) July 28, 2019
Except that's not how Google searches actually work. The tech company's autocomplete component considers the search history of each user as well as trending topics and produces suggestions accordingly. For instance, I did a "PragerU" search on my laptop using an incognito browser, which scrubbed my history for a clean search. The Google results I received were much more favorable to PragerU—a testament to the dynamic nature of the search function which changes based on what people are talking about. In other words, there is no Google conspiracy here.
.@prageru thinks that unflattering google search suggestions prove that the company is biased against them. Except I tried the same search in incognito mode and got much more favorable results. Don't believe the hype. https://t.co/oABf5xkyJG pic.twitter.com/5cDWDxTzxb
— Billy Binion (@billybinion) July 29, 2019
Regrettably, such clear evidence probably won't convince Prager himself, who recently appeared before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution to put Google on full-blast for—you guessed it—censorship.
"I promise you, one day you will say, first they came after conservatives, and I said nothing," said Prager, a reference the famous post-Holocaust poem by Martin Niemöller. "And then they came after me—and there was no one left to speak up for me."
But instead of complaining about the actions of private companies, Prager should educate himself about what censorship actually means.
*UPDATE: This article has been updated to include additional information on how Google produces search suggestions as well as on PragerU's past statements about free speech.