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Photo: Carsten Rehder/picture alliance via Getty Images

The Heritage Foundation is preparing to unveil a video Tuesday that slams YouTube for what it says is the censorship of its voice on YouTube's platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: The video will be the first public acknowledgment of a months-long, behind-the-scenes dispute between the conservative think tank and the tech giant.

Details: In late September, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki met with Heritage Foundation president Kay Coles James and other members of Heritage's leadership team at their offices in Washington, sources tell Axios.

  • The meeting, which isn't that unusual for either party, was used to discuss an array of issues, including censorship.
  • While sources say the gathering was cordial, the two groups came to a standstill over YouTube's removal of a 2017 video from Heritage's content arm, The Daily Signal.

YouTube removed the video, which features a doctor making a comment about transgender issues, as a violation of its hate speech policies. Sources say that the tech giant offered to re-list the video, but only if but only if The Daily Signal removed the transgender reference by the doctor. Heritage sees that either-or choice as censorship.

  • In the video, Dr. Michelle Cretella, a pediatrician, says, "See, if you want to cut off a leg or an arm you’re mentally ill, but if you want to cut off healthy breasts or a penis, you’re transgender."
  • While The Heritage Foundation concedes that those comments are controversial, it argues that the topic of body alteration is worth having a civil debate around.
  • "As one of the largest content platforms in the world, YouTube should welcome more discussion rather than eliminating speech at the mob’s command,” said Rob Bluey, Heritage's vice president of communications, in a statement.

Between the lines: Heritage went through a similar standoff with Facebook, but eventually had its video reposted as a part of an appeals process.

The big picture: The standoff highlights a wider issue that conservatives face in squaring off against Big Tech. Some conservatives feel conflicted about crying foul over YouTube's decisions because of their belief that private companies should be free to set their own policies.

  • The Heritage Foundation, which has strong ties to the Trump Administration, takes a conservative positions on issues likes abortion and LGTBQ rights, but it also promotes free market economics and deregulation.
  • "As conservatives who believe in free enterprise, the last thing we should be calling for is government regulation or coercion of private companies," Bluey said.

Go deeper: Inside YouTube's hate speech minefield

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Beto plans Texas comeback in governor's race

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks during the Georgetown to Austin March for Democracy rally on July 31, 2021 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to run for governor of Texas in 2022, with an announcement expected later this year, Texas political operatives tell Axios.

Why it matters: O'Rourke's entry would give Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — and give O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate and voting rights activist, a path to a political comeback.

Texas doctor says he performed an abortion in violation of state law

Pro-choice protesters march down Congress Avenue and back to the Texas state capitol in Austin, Tx in July 2021. Photo: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

A Texas doctor disclosed in an op-ed in the Washington Post Saturday that he has performed an abortion in violation of the state's restrictive new abortion law, which bans effectively bans the procedure after six weeks.

Why it matters: Alan Braid's op-ed is a direct disclosure that will very likely result in legal action, thereby setting it up as a potential test case for how the abortion ban will be litigated, notes the New York Times.

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - Technology

Axios interview: Facebook to try for more transparency

Nick Clegg last year. Photo: Matthew Sobocinski/USA Today via Reuters

Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, tells me the company will try to provide more data to outside researchers to scrutinize the health of activity on Facebook and Instagram, following The Wall Street Journal's brutal look at internal documents.

Driving the news: Clegg didn't say that in his public response to the series. So I called him to push for what Facebook will actually do differently given the new dangers raised by The Journal.

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