Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado sent a letter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation to Google chief executive Sundar Pichai on Wednesday, asking for an explanation as to why YouTube suspended the account of the American Principles Project, a conservative advocacy group.
YouTube removed one of the American Principles Project’s (APP) accounts late Monday over “repeated violations” of the platform’s community guidelines, later reinstating it but deleting several of the group’s videos. Google did not provide the APP with an explanation at the time as to why it suspended the group’s accounts, or what rules it violated.
Buck asked Pichai to provide him information on who made the decision to suspend APP’s account, the specific guidelines the APP violated and the procedures YouTube has in place when deciding whether to delete an account. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Ken Buck Demands Zuckerberg Hand Over Research Into Instagram’s Effects On Eating Disorders, Child Exploitation)
“I remain very concerned that Google is leveraging its market power to silence its critics and those who hold dissimilar political or social views,” Buck wrote.
The APP is regularly critical of Google and other major tech companies, pushing for antitrust reform to break the tech giant up. Buck said he was worried Google suspended the group as a way of silencing a political adversary.
“Google’s decision to suspend APP’s YouTube account appears to be another example of YouTube targeting a conservative organization,” Buck wrote. “However, this case appears to be particularly pernicious because it appears your company may have also been motivated by a desire to silence its opponents and shut down one of the few organizations dedicated to exposing Google’s abusive practices.”
Buck pointed to previous examples of YouTube removing, suppressing, or labeling content by conservative groups and lawmakers, including the suspension of Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s account, as evidence of Google’s bias.
“Being de-platformed by YouTube or de-indexed from Google’s search results has catastrophic consequences for the affected organization and the organizations and individuals increasingly subject to these tactics appear to be affiliated with Republican and conservative points of view,” Buck wrote.
When reached for comment, a Google spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the account was removed for re-uploading content from Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast, which was banned from YouTube in January. YouTube prohibits content that first appeared on a deleted channel.
“Upon review of their appeal, we have reinstated the APP channel and issued a warning to the channel, in accordance with our three-strikes system,” the spokesperson said. “We’re working with APP to explain our policies so they can make the best decisions for their channel moving forward.”
Buck, who serves as Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law subcommittee, is the co-sponsor of several antitrust bills targeting Google and other major tech companies over alleged market abuses, including censorship concerns. The Colorado Republican tweeted Tuesday that he was working with Sen. Tom Cotton on legislation to “stop Google from swallowing up competitors and rein in their monopoly power.”
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