LGBTQ+ content creators made a disappointing discovery recently: YouTube, which has long been a platform for self-expression, has been hiding some of their videos under the site’s “Restricted mode.” The feature in question is designed to “use community flagging, age-restrictions, and other signals to identify and filter out potentially inappropriate content.” Is the video-sharing site implicitly categorizing their materials inappropriate?
British vlogger Rowan Ellis called attention to the issue which makes it harder for queer people to share their content on the platform. In a YouTube posting, she raised questions about what the site deems appropriate and inappropriate after finding out that dozens of her videos fell victim to the process. Ironically, that posting is now one of those that are hidden under the restricted mode.
Ellis has been posting videos for about two and a half years now but she has no idea why the filtering is happening now. Regardless, she told Gizmodo that it’s troubling, also accusing the platform of having a “bias somewhere within that process equating LGBT+ with ‘not family friendly.”
“Videos about LGBTQ+ life, love, history, friendships, etc, are no more inappropriate than videos with straight couples or telling the history of straight figures,” she told the outlet. “Yet they are apparently being treated differently.”
YouTube LGBTQ Content
She’s not alone, though. Tylor Oakley, one of YouTube’s biggest stars, just became aware that the site blocked one of his videos under Restricted Mode. He took to Twitter to address the situation, writing: “Still not fixed. One of my recent videos, ‘8 Black LGBTQ+ Trailblazers Who Inspire Me’ is blocked because of this. I’m perplexed, @YouTube.” He urged all of his followers to “actively check on all LGBTQ+ creators you’re subscribed to & continue to support their content.”
until we hear back from @youtube, please actively check on all LGBTQ+ creators you're subscribed to & continue to support their content.
— Tyler Oakley (@tyleroakley) March 19, 2017
NeonFiona and SeaineLove complained about the same thing too. Titles that includes LGBTQ+ words like “gay,” “lesbian,” and “bisexual” were reportedly filtered out by the site. However, the problem is not affecting all LGBTQ+ videos. Searching ‘transgender’, ‘LGBTQ+’, or ‘asexual’ on the site still generates many results.
Just looked at my videos with the "restricted mode" on. Seeing a bit of a theme here…
— fiona ? (@neonfiona) March 16, 2017
It remains unclear whether or not this is intentional. According to Mashable, all YouTube had to say so far is that: “Some videos that cover subjects like health, politics, and sexuality may not appear for users and institutions that choose to use this feature.” Hopefully, the platform will recognize these problems and take action to rectify the situation sooner than later.
Any thoughts about the YouTube LGBTQ censorship? Why do you think are the videos filtered out? Leave your comments below!