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A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against YouTube for allegedly violating the Constitution by banning videos promoting QAnon conspiracy theories.


US District Judge Beth Freeman issued her order Tuesday in the US District Court Northern District of California San Jose Division, saying there was not enough evidence.

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Fifteen identified and unidentified “conservative content creators” first filed a lawsuit against YouTube’s parent company, Google, in October of 2020. They sought an emergency injunction saying, “YouTube abruptly removed conservative content from its platform and terminated the accounts and channels that hosted that content,” according to court documents.

QAnon centers its beliefs on the baseless belief that former President Donald Trump is running a covert campaign against enemies in a “deep state” and a child sex trafficking ring run by diabolical pedophiles and cannibals. What started as an online obsession for the far-flung fringe has grown beyond its origins in a dark corner of the internet. QAnon has been creeping into the mainstream political arena for over a year.

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The group claimed that YouTube’s actions violated their First Amendment and were politically motivated in the form of removals and suspensions weeks before the November 2020 election. It also claimed that YouTube’s actions “do serious harm to both conservative content creators and American voters who seek out their content.”

In his decision, Freeman said that YouTube is a private company and that the plaintiffs “failed to make a reasonable First Amendment claim by failing to sufficiently allege that the defendant’s conduct constituted state action.” “

Freeman dismissed the First Amendment violation claim with prejudice, which prevents the group from filing an appeal in federal court because of the action.

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However, the plaintiffs’ lawyers said they were not giving up.

“His case raises the question of whether the First Amendment protects him and you and all Americans from the government by using private companies as cat’s claws to achieve a goal—the censorship of dissenting views—that virtually everyone agrees on.” that the government cannot achieve on its own,” attorney Chris Armenta said in a statement to Granthshala television stations. “We look forward to taking this matter to the Ninth Circuit and beyond.”

Granthshala television stations have also contacted YouTube for comment.

Meanwhile, several tech companies have come under scrutiny for not taking adequate action on misinformation.

After permanently suspending the personal Twitter account of former President Donald Trump in January, Twitter deactivates over 70,000 accounts QAnon is linked to conspiracy theory. The company said users were “banned for engaging in mass sharing of harmful QAnon-related content and were primarily devoted to the promotion of this conspiracy theory on the service.”

related: Twitter removes 70K accounts linked to QAnon after Trump ban

Facebook also removed several groups, accounts and pages linked to QAnon, the first to act against the most right-wing US conspiracy theory circulating among Trump supporters in May 2020.

However, earlier this month, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen told “60 Minutes” that whenever there is a conflict between the public good and what benefits the company, the social media giant chooses its own interests. Will do She said Facebook had prematurely shut down security measures designed to prevent misinformation and nuisance after defeating Donald Trump last year, accusing it of contributing to the deadly January 6 attack on the US Capitol. Gave.

“Facebook has shown time and again that it chooses advantage over security,” she said.

Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, dismissed the claim after being grilled by various media outlets about Facebook’s use of algorithms as well as its role in spreading harmful misinformation prior to the January 6 Capital riots.

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“We’re constantly iterating to improve our products,” Clegg told CNN. We can’t make everyone’s life perfect with the wand of the wand. We can improve our products so that our products are just as safe and as pleasant to use.”

With regard to the COVID-19 vaccine, YouTube announced sweeping action last month Misinformation that removed popular anti-vaccine influencers from their sites and false claims made about a range of vaccinations. The video-sharing platform said it will no longer allow users to speculate whether approved vaccines, such as those given to prevent the flu or measles, are dangerous or cause diseases.

related: YouTube bans content with misinformation about all vaccines

In March, Twitter also began labeling content that made misleading claims about COVID-19 vaccines and said it would ban accounts that repeatedly shared such posts.

Almost all Americans agree that the widespread spread of misinformation is a problem.

A survey by The Pearson Institute and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed that 95% of Americans identified misinformation as a problem when they were trying to access important information. About half put too much of the blame on the US government, and nearly three-quarters pointed to social media users and tech companies. Yet only 2 out of 10 Americans say they are deeply concerned that they have personally spread misinformation.

The Associated Press and Austin Williams contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.