Things are going from bad to worse for many independent creators on YouTube – anything from their ability to monetize to their right to free speech.
And it doesn't seem to be that much better on some YouTube competitors that some might view as alternatives, like Vimeo.
As far as monetization, Vimeo doesn't have the market to compete. But when it comes to making controversial decisions and getting accused of impinging on free speech and discrimination – it's keeping up with Google's giant.
Vimeo had removed videos uploaded by a man who identifies as a “former homosexual.”
Pastor James Domen said he wanted to express his sexuality, such as he claims it now is, but that Vimeo banned the content as promotion of “gay conversion therapy” – which the site seems to object to the point of treating any mention of the contentious idea as – “hateful, harassing, defamatory, and discriminatory content.”
Domen then sued Vimeo in New York, but a judge dismissed the case.
Read the original complaint here.
According to a statement from his legal representatives, Domen – who belongs to the Church United – has decided to lodge an appeal against that ruling.
During the initial legal proceedings that led to the dismissal, Vimeo's attorney defended the decision to delete Domen's account by saying the platform has the last word on what it bans or allows, and cited both the First Amendment and CDA's Section 230 to back up this argument.
The appeal now rests on attempting to prove that Big Tech should not be allowed to hide behind the Communications Decency Act (CDA) provisions, Section 230 in particular, when committing what is seen as discrimination against “protected classes of individuals” – in other words, cases involving race, religion, or sexual orientation, among others.
“This case is significant because this district court and a few other lower courts have interpreted the federal Communications Decency Act to give immunity to Big Tech whenever such a company commits unconscionable discrimination in their online filtering decisions against protected classes of individuals – for example, classifications based on race, religion, color creed or sexual orientation,” said attorney Robert Tyler, Partner at Tyler & Bursch, LLP and President of Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a nonprofit religious liberty firm.
“The effect of the Court's interpretation of the CDA is that a company like Vimeo, YouTube or even Amazon could decide that it will not allow someone to hold an account with their site just because they are of a particular race or religion.” Tyler continues: “This invidious discrimination is normally unlawful for businesses operating in California; but according to this court, the CDA exempts Big Tech from states' nondiscrimination laws when filtering content or deciding who is allowed to access the service they offer. This should concern everyone from left to right.”
The filing seems to focus more on Domen's right to consider himself a “former homosexual,” now a heterosexual, than on his right to promote about “gay conversion.”
Pastor Domen identifies as a “former” homosexual who is now married with three children. This lawsuit claims that Church United's account was removed by Vimeo because Vimeo disapproves of Pastor Domen's sexual orientation as a “former homosexual” and religion.
According to the appeal, the practice was mentioned in a handful of Domen's 89 banned videos in testimonies by him and others about “the help they received through counseling and talk therapy.”
The appeal aims to prove that the court's read on the CDA means tech companies from Vimeo to Amazon “could decide they will not allow someone to hold an account with their site just because they are of a particular race or religion.”
“This invidious discrimination is normally unlawful for businesses operating in California,” the statement said.