Google, one of the largest and most powerful corporations in the world, is the owner of Youtube, a video platform with over 2 billion users worldwide. Google likes to advertise itself as a self-righteous corporation, handing out funds to charities and terminating content creators and media companies whose ideas it doesn’t like, particularly Christians and African media companies that advocate human rights and expose corruption. Its latest target is Mereja TV, a popular broadcast television station with millions of viewers in Ethiopia and around the world.
Yesterday, Youtube has terminated Mereja TV’s Youtube channel that has over 200,000 subscribers and millions of monthly views. Mereja TV has not received any warning from Youtube before its channel was taken down. In an email notification, Youtube said that it has received complaints that the channel was in violation of its community guidelines. It didn’t bother to explain what the violations were.
But we know the reason. About two weeks, Mereja TV has started to air a program hosted by a highly respected Ethiopian religious scholar and human rights advocate, Mr. Zemedkun Bekele. His television program is being watched 4 times per week by millions of Ethiopians. Mr. Zemedkun urges authorities to help prevent the persecution of Orthodox Christians. He promotes peaceful coexistence between the various Ethiopian ethnic and religious groups and teaches his audience members to take personal responsibility for their actions. It is a wholesome program that should be encouraged and supported.
Obviously, some individuals who are in a position of power do not like what Zemedkun is saying because he exposes their corruption and divide-and-conquer methods. But Youtube would not terminate major American and European media companies without explanation for criticizing government officials. Youtube discriminates against African media companies because of its contempt for people of color.
While silencing educational programs by African media companies, Youtube allows extremely vile, disgusting, horrific videos that target the Ethiopian and African societies. There are countless such videos in Amharic and other African languages. We have collected some of them as evidence. If Youtube has any respect for its African audience, it could have cooperated with professional media such as Mereja TV to clean up its platform from videos that incite ethnic and religious conflict, glorify violence, degrade women and minority groups, and expose children to pornography.
Compare Zemedkun’s program on Mereja TV to popular Youtubers whose videos have over 100 million views (for example, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPw_izFr5PA – 600 million views). It is a video full of racial epithets and words that objectify women. Youtube has no problem with such videos. But a program by an African Christian scholar who teaches morality is found to be in violation of Youtube’s community guidelines.
Mereja TV will file a lawsuit against Youtube on Monday, claiming racial and religious discrimination. But the fight must not be limited to a courtroom. Mereja TV will take the fight to the court of public opinion, and lobby Ethiopian and African governments to ban Youtube from Africa unless it stops discriminating against reputable African media companies and clean up its platform from filthy content.
It is not the first time people of color took Youtube to court for discrimination. Earlier this year, after a group of African-American video producers filed a lawsuit against Youtube, its CEO Susan Wojcicki dismissed the accusation by saying: “It’s not like our systems understand race or any of those different demographics.” Susan Wojcicki cannot escape responsibility by blaming Youtube’s discrimination against Christians and people of color on Youtube’s algorithm. Mereja TV was taken down by a Youtube employee, not a bot. Youtube cannot escape complying with the laws that prohibit discrimination against race or religion.