YouTube restricts conservative livestream on BLM with crime expert Heather Mac Donald

The 40-minute talk generated thousands of views, says Powerline blogger John Hinderaker, who hosted the event. An hour later, the YouTube version of the event vanished, and he received a note from the platform saying the talk got flagged for review and was found to be in violation of YouTube’s guidelines.

Image
John Hinderaker
Powerlineblog.com contributor John Hinderaker
(tk)
Updated: August 8, 2020 - 7:31pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Links

Other Media

John Hinderaker had heard complaints about big tech companies like Twitter and YouTube selectively censoring information that defied conventional media narratives.

Last week it got personal.

Hinderaker, a contributor to Powerlineblog.com and president of the Minnesota-based Center of the American Experiment, hosted a livestream event on YouTube tied to Black Lives Matter.

He invited researcher and author Heather Mac Donald ("The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe") to crunch the numbers surrounding police brutality in the U.S. In the course of the presentation, Mac Donald refuted core elements of BLM's messaging.

The 40-minute talk, titled "The Truth About Crime, Race and Policing," generated thousands of views on Facebook and YouTube combined during the livestream event, according to Hinderaker.

"This whole BLM narrative is huge right now, and it’s going mostly unchallenged," Hinderaker notes. "It's adopted by big business, by the entertainment industry and lots of politicians."

An hour later, the YouTube version of the livestream vanished, and he received a note from the video portal saying the presentation got flagged for review:

"…we've determined that it violates our guidelines and we’ve removed it from YouTube."

"YouTube no doubt hosts thousands of Black Lives Matter videos, so it can't be the subject per se that causes a video to be flagged," Hinderaker says. That is "viewpoint discrimination," he argues, because "it can only be the opinions of the speaker on that subject that result in 'flagging.'" 

Hinderaker shared a copy of YouTube's email at Powerlineblog.com, showing the message didn’t make clear how the video violated YouTube policies. Hinderaker, a conservative whose group "emphasizes free enterprise, limited government, personal responsibility and government accountability," shared his appeal of the decision online:

This is obviously a mistake. The speaker is Heather Mac Donald, one of America's top authorities on crime and policing. She is the author of a bestselling book on the subject, has testified before the House Judiciary Committee on the topic of her speech, and was described by a former Attorney General of the U.S. as "the greatest thinker on criminal justice in America today." Her talk was data-rich and totally beyond criticism based on YouTube's "Community Guidelines." Please reverse this erroneous decision immediately.

YouTube quickly reinstated the video.

A short while later, another YouTube message followed. This time, the video portal decided to place an age restriction on the content in question, saying:

Upon review, we’ve determined that it may not be suitable for all viewers and it has been placed behind an age restriction.

The restriction, according to Google (which owns YouTube) refers to videos that "are not visible to users who are logged out, are under 18 years of age, or have Restricted Mode enabled."

As a result of the restriction, some who find the video may not want to log on to the site to see it, preferring to surf elsewhere for their research. On the web, even a second or two delay can change online behavior.

Hinderaker uploaded a second version of the video presentation onto YouTube shortly after the drama surrounding the livestream edition. The newer version, left untouched by YouTube for several days, recently earned a new level of restriction from the video platform. Anyone attempting to watch the video, which has generated north of 81,000 views to date, will now find this message:

The following content has been identified by the YouTube community as inappropriate or offensive to some audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.

Hinderaker isn't surprised to run afoul of YouTube's monitors.

"We're seeing this on all these social media platforms," he says. "It's always uphill for conservatives."

A similar situation has been plaguing Prager U. The video channel, created by conservative talker Dennis Prager, offers five-plus minute "lessons" on a variety of topics. The conversations lean to the right and often involve religious principles.

Prager unsuccessfully sued YouTube for viewpoint discrimination after the platform placed many of his online lessons in the "restricted" category. That mode also "blocks third parties from advertising on the videos," according to a Reuters report. 

Twitter, another big tech company routinely criticized by conservatives for perceived bias, recently clamped down on tweets by President Donald Trump. The same platform allows a myriad of hateful messages on other accounts, though, including this tweet from Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei:

House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) slammed tech giant Google on July 29 for discriminating against three conservative news sites during a House Judiciary Committee antitrust hearing:

July 20, 2020, Google removes the homepages of Breitbart and The Daily Caller. Just last night we learned that Google has censored Breitbart so much that traffic has declined 99 percent. June 16, 2020, Google threatens to demonitize and ban The Federalist.

Google did not respond to a request from Just the News for comment on the matter.

Hinderaker wants transparency from tech giants like YouTube to address suspicions it selectively censors conservative-leaning content. 

"Their email said that our video was 'flagged for review,'" says Hinderaker. "What does that mean? Flagged by whom? Why? Do they have a computer algorithm that 'flags' videos based on certain content criteria? If so, I want to see the algorithm. Was it 'flagged' by a YouTube employee? If so, I want to see the internal guidelines that YouTube gives its employees who 'flag' videos."

YouTube did not respond to a request from JustTheNews.com for comment on this article.

Just the News Spotlight