Google has won one court victory, and lost another, as the Web behemoths come under more scrutiny, thanks to Facebook’s massive blunders with consumers’ private data.
In its victory, the company won dismissal of a lawsuit in a California court that accused its YouTube division of censoring conservative content.
There was no immediate word on whether an appeal would follow. Reuters reported U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh decided a nonprofit run by conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager had not successfully demonstrated YouTube infringed its free speech by restricting its videos by age.
“The plaintiff, Prager University, said YouTube’s ‘animus’ toward its ‘political identity and viewpoint’ led it to curb access to videos, including through its ‘Restricted Mode’ setting, on such topics as abortion, gun rights, Islam and terrorism, despite its stated promise of neutrality,” the report said.
The judge claimed the Web giants weren’t “state actors” and so weren’t necessarily subject to the First Amendment provisions about “public forums” for speech.
“Defendants are private entities who created their own video-sharing social media website and make decisions about whether and how to regulate content that has been uploaded on that website,” the judge said in her opinion. “Plaintiff has not shown that defendants have engaged in one of the very few public functions that were traditionally exclusively reserved to the state.”
Google already had acknowledged that determining restrictions for videos can be subjective but declined to accept liability for its decisions.
WND reported in January that the idea that Internet giants such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube may have declared war on conservatives was gaining strength.
Talk-radio icon Rush Limbaugh has identified what he believes is the ideology driving the Internet giants.
“These people are pure – they would never think of themselves this way – but these are pure Stalinists. While they’re running around call[ing] Trump a Stalinist, they don’t even know what it really is,” he charged.
He pointed out that Facebook’s recent change in its newsfeed, which aims to give greater visibility to posts from “friends and family,” as Breitbart reported, actually does much more.
“The subtext is that it will decrease visibility to pages run by publishers and news sites.
“Consider this: at the inauguration of President Trump, Fox News’ coverage attracted the most viewers on cable news – an average of 8.8 million. But their Facebook video of the same event attracted almost twice that number: 16 million,” Limbaugh said.
“Facebook now has the power to make or break publishers. If the latest newsfeed change is anything to go by, they’re now keen on breaking them.”
A Breitbart report said that when Facebook previously targeted “individual publishers,” there were charges of political bias and a Senate-led investigation, so it now “might be trying to get around the problem by diminishing the reach of all publishers equally.”
The report took the issue straight to its logical conclusion – the overwhelming power of social media companies.
The progressive social media platforms “are threatened” by conservatives, Limbaugh said.
“They wouldn’t say threatened. They would say it’s silly, it’s destructive, it’s mean-spirited, it’s extremist, it’s bigoted, you know, all the usual ‘isms’ that they associate. But what really it is, they’re afraid of it,” he said.
“They all have these cocoons they live in, in their alternative universe, where they feel safe and protected from any opposing view. All the snowflakes gather and they’re all protected. If anything gets into that, permeates the boundary, then Katie bar the door. And that’s what we’re looking at now. They’ve got to stop it because they’re not interested in debate, they’re not interested in discussion or any of that.”
He added: “These are people who think socialism is great because they think socialism is justice, being nice to people, being fair. They have no idea what it even is. They don’t realize it’s one step away from murderous communism.”
Google’s loss was a big one.
An appeals court said Google violated copyright laws when it used Oracle’s open-source Java software to build the Android platform in 2009.
The case dates back to 2010 when Oracle alleged Anrdoid infringes two patents that Oracle holds on its Java software, an ubiquitous programming language powering everything from phones to websites.
CNN reported a jury decided in 2012 that Java does not deserve protection under copyright law, but two years later, an appeals court overturned that decision.
In 2016, a jury said Google’s use of Oracle’s material was reasonable under fair use doctrine, but the judges this week reversed the decision.
“There is nothing fair about taking a copyrighted work verbatim and using it for the same purpose and function as the original in a competing platform,” the three judges wrote.
While Oracle said the verdict protects creators and consumers, Google said it was weighing its next moves.
Barring another reversal in the case, another court will decide how much Google owes Oracle in damages, which Oracled estimated in 2016 at $9 billion.